Train watchdogs have launched an investigation into the Network Rail Wales and Western region over continued poor performance, including a lack of punctuality and reliability.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said Network Rail’s contribution to train service performance in the region has been “on an overall worsening trend since 2021”, which is “impacting both passengers and freight.”
The region has been subject to enhanced regulatory monitoring and intervention over the past two years and Feras Alshaker, Director of Performance and Planning at the ORR, said that while he “acknowledges Wales & Western’s co-operation with our enhanced monitoring, including its progress in developing and implementing its performance improvement plan,” the “train performance levels experienced by customers continue to be below expectations.”
The ORR is now launching an investigation into “whether or not Wales & Western has contravened or is contravening the Network Licence”.
Feras Alshaker said: “While the investigation will focus on Network Rail’s contribution, we recognise that delivering train service performance relies on cross-industry collaboration.
“The Network Licence requires Network Rail to satisfy the reasonable requirements of operators and funders.
“We will therefore seek stakeholder views and intend to convene an industry roundtable as part of our investigation.
“This will ensure that all parties that have a direct influence on train performance can input to the investigation and the identification of the measures required to improve performance for passengers and freight.”
“The outcome of this investigation could ultimately result in a finding of breach of the Network Licence and, if appropriate, enforcement action.”
The investigation into Network Rail comes at a time when rail services in mid and north Wales have come under fire from passengers with complaints – reported in the Cambrian News – of train services along the Cambrian Line, which links Aberystwyth with Machynlleth and Pwllheli, being “not good enough”, with overcrowding “bordering on dangerous” and calls for the need for a “change of direction” if the situation is ever to improve.
Jan Chaudhry-Van der Velde, chief operating officer at TfW, said earlier this year that he expects services to improve after a “transformation program” is completed.