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ORR finds that Network Rail’s North West and Central region performed well, but underdelivered on asset renewals

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The Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) annual assessment of Network Rail’s North West and Central region finds that it was Network Rail’s top performing region for the year (April 2021 to March 2022), having retained much of the train performance gain achieved during the pandemic and having delivered its planned efficiencies.

However, the region underdelivered on asset renewals and needs to improve asset reliability.

ORR finds that North West and Central worked hard to retain the passenger and freight train service performance improvements achieved in the previous year. Although performance declined as the network became busier, it remained better than before the pandemic.

The region responded positively to ORR’s findings from its May 2020 investigation into poor performance and has satisfactorily addressed all 25 of the regulator’s recommendations for improvement.

The regulator finds that North West and Central did not fully deliver its planned asset renewal work, and asset reliability was below target. The region needs to improve the reliability of its track and electrical power assets. It also has a backlog of structures examinations which it needs to reduce.

North West and Central performed well against its efficiency target for the year, delivering £162m in efficiencies, ahead of its £158 million target.

Patrick Crowley, ORR’s Senior Regulation Manager for the North West and Central region said:

“Network Rail’s North West and Central region retained much of the train performance gains achieved during the pandemic and delivered its planned efficiencies.

“However, the region needs to focus on management of its assets, including reducing its backlog of structures examinations.”

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