Keith Brown calls on Network Rail to up performance in Scotland
A report last month from the Office of the Rail Regulation, the body responsible for auditing rail performance in the UK, showed strong operational performance by Network Rail Scotland in meeting its performance targets. However, events in recent weeks on the railway network have impacted on its performance.
Speaking following the meeting, Mr Brown said:
“I am acutely aware of the need to give comfort to passengers who expect to see trains run on time and that the rail industry is responding by doing everything possible to deal quickly and effectively with events that hit hard on services.
“Despite a strong performance in the early part of this year, performance in recent weeks has given me cause for concern. Today’s meeting focussed on addressing these concerns and that Network Rail draw up a recovery plan that will meet rail passenger expectations and get Network Rail’s performance back on track.
“Network Rail outlined that unusually high temperatures in recent weeks created a number of signalling issues across areas of the rail network which have impacted on delivering passenger services, and that they are implementing short term contingency measures to minimise those effects. These include installing sprinklers to cool the track and painting vulnerable sections of track white to reflect heat.
“Network Rail is also working with British Transport Police to deal with criminal activity which results in services being affected, and ScotRail to put in place jointly measures to evaluate delays to services to inform and improve future performance. Communications is of course key to keeping the public updated on any impacts and what is being done to address these, and I stressed the need for the industry to keep rail passengers informed at every turn.
“I want to see a rail network that delivers the kind of passenger services they rightly deserve. Only by continuing to demand the very best from our rail industry in Scotland will we realise that ambition, and I want to see Network Rail step up to the plate and deliver for rail passengers in Scotland.”
David Simpson, Network Rail’s route managing director for Scotland, added:
“We share the Minister’s concerns over the current performance of the network. Scotland is usually one of the strongest parts of the UK railway, with punctuality levels reaching a record 93 per cent last year.
“We are working hard to manage the infrastructure issues we are currently facing and to put in place plans to improve performance. Over the last two months a range of factors – including extreme heat, vandalism to equipment, and, in the last two days, lightning strikes – have contributed to the issues we have faced, but we are confident we can respond positively to the challenge of restoring performance to previous levels.”