Annual report shows railway line operator for Falkirk area is on the right track
The work of Network Rail Scotland allowed services to become more reliable in a difficult year according to the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) annual assessment.
The ORR report stated the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on Network Rail, which is responsible for operating and maintaining the country’s railway infrastructure – including rail lines running through Falkirk
While severe weather had a significant impact on the punctuality of freight services, the regulator found passenger train service punctuality and reliability improved, largely due to fewer services and passengers.
The ORR report stated: “Despite the challenges of operating during a pandemic, we have seen evidence of Network Rail Scotland collaborating closely, both with the supply chain and trade unions, to identify safe ways of working in the delivery of upgrade and renewal work.
"Network Rail Scotland has also demonstrated a sustained commitment to deliver Scottish Ministers’ priorities, and has started delivering Transport Scotland’s Rail Services Decarbonisation Action Plan, published last July.
“We recognise good progress by Network Rail Scotland in improving track worker safety, and that it has managed the transmission risks of COVID-19 well. But there is more to do, with improvements needed to how Network Rail Scotland plans for closures of the railway for work to be carried out safely.”
The report also looked at Network Rail Scotland’s financial performance, which it found to be “behind target”, largely due to the pandemic
However, for the second year in a row, the region exceeded its efficiency target – delivering £65.6 million of efficiencies over 2020/2021.
Liz McLeod, ORR’s senior regulation manager for Network Rail Scotland said: “This year, more than ever, has demonstrated the need for Network Rail Scotland to deliver on its commitments for a more resilient railway.
“In 2020-21, there have been some significant incidents following severe weather. Network Rail Scotland has demonstrated strong collaboration with industry partners and its funder, Transport Scotland, to identify improvements to sustain the high levels of performance experienced throughout the pandemic as lockdown restrictions ease.
"While train performance has been very good, there is a clear risk performance will drop as passengers and services return. Network Rail needs to maintain cross-industry collaboration to retain performance improvements where possible.”