Network Rail’s annual report has revealed that it spent a record £3.9 billion across 2016-17 – 10 per cent more than in any previous year.
Infrastructure reliability and performance improved to become the best on record, according to the arms-length public body, but train performance has ‘not been what the industry would have liked,’ putting the blame down to congestion, severe weather and industrial action.
Across 2015-16, 89.1 per cent of passenger trains were on time but in 2016/17 that figure fell to 87.6 per cent.
In 2016-17 there was a renewed focus on transforming Network Rail into a more customer-focussed, cost competitive organisation and its pre-tax profits were boosted to £483 million from £411 million.
A statement on the Network Rail website added, ‘Cost efficiency remains a challenge for Network Rail, largely due to increased supply chain costs compared to regulatory assumptions in 2012, as well as much less access to the railway than was assumed then given the rapid rise in early morning and late night trains.
‘The Board has put in place a plan to ensure the organisation keeps within its financial budget for the remainder of the control period which will see some non-essential renewals work postponed. The company is also further reviewing its plans for the next control period (CP6) to better understand where further efficiencies can be made.’
Chairman Sir Peter Hendy CBE said, ‘The extraordinary growth in passenger numbers means the network is now full in many areas, and this congestion inevitably increases delays when anything goes wrong.
‘It has also meant we have less access than ever before to make essential improvements.
‘We are leading the way the whole rail industry operates in the years ahead, by both embracing new technologies and working ever more closely together to deliver the most effective and efficient outcomes for passengers.
‘But there is much more to do to deliver the affordable and reliable railway our country needs.’