SCOTRAIL and Network Rail have worked together to achieve “strong” and “considerably improved” punctuality which is “in stark contrast” to missed targets south of the Border, transport minister Keith Brown said today.
He called for significant improvements to the performance of the east and west coast main lines, especially over problems with overhead electric wires which have caused big delays - where Network Rail now faces fines if timekeeping does not get better.
The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), which scrutinises Network Rail’s spending, said passengers had enjoyed “excellent punctuality” in Scotland in the year to March thanks to effective co-ordination with train operators like ScotRail to tackle bad weather problems.
Punctuality improved by 2.3 percentage points to 93 per cent of trains arriving within five minutes of time - 1.1 percentage points above target.
Delays south of the border
However, the ORR said “significant areas” remained where Network Rail was failing to meet its punctuality targets south of the Border.
Its spokeswoman said: “ORR is investigating whether Network Rail did everything reasonably practicable to deliver punctuality targets for passenger services in the long- distance and London and the south east sectors.
“The regulator has already specified a financial penalty should Network Rail miss its punctuality commitments for long distance passenger services at the end of March 2014.”
Mr Brown said: “I am encouraged to see this strong operational performance within Scotland, which is in stark contrast to some of the figures for elsewhere in the UK. Performance levels have improved considerably.”
“ScotRail in particular has benefited from its alliance [closer joint working ] with Network Rail, and significant infrastructure improvements like the on-time completion of the Paisley Canal electrification.
“This has enabled the industry to work much closer together and help raise performance, improve efficiency and deliver greater value for money.”
But the minister said he would be “seeking assurances” that the performance of the two cross-Border lines “improve significantly” to meet targets, “particularly in the areas of overhead line problems that have caused significant delays in the past”.