Train operators get tough with Network Rail

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The Independent Online

Britain's train operating companies are demanding that tough new targets be imposed on Network Rail to improve its service to the travelling public.

Britain's train operating companies are demanding that tough new targets be imposed on Network Rail to improve its service to the travelling public.

The train companies are becoming increasingly worried that the latest reorganisation of the railways has failed to include enough measures to ensure that Network Rail delivers a better service.

In a letter to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), Go Ahead, the train and bus operator, has called for a new system to assess Network Rail.

A spokeswoman for Go Ahead said: "It can only be to the benefit of the industry to improve [Network Rail's] accountability to passengers and funders and to measure its successes and failures in terms that passengers recognise."

Go Ahead proposes that Network Rail be judged on the number of train cancellations it causes, as well as the number of minutes delayed. Last year Network Rail was responsible for 11.5 million minutes of delays on the railways. But this bettered its target of 12.3 million, which means that the Network Rail executives are in line for bumper bonuses.

Go Ahead would also like to see new targets set on so-called "blockages", when Network Rail closes a line for maintenance.

In a separate letter to the ORR, the Association of Train Operating Companies says: "Attention needs to be given to how the principle of acting in the public interest sits with a private sector corporate governance structure."

If the ORR adopts the recommendations, it would have the power to recommend the cutting of bonuses to Network Rail executives if targets were missed.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "If this is something the ORR wants to propose, then we are happy to work with it."

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