Friday, 19 November 2010

Network Rail Criticised By NXEA

Andrew Chivers, Managing Director of National Express East Anglia, has written to local MPs criticising the performance of Network Rail, saying that its progress in reducing delays caused by infrastructure problems in the last seven years had been "minor" when compared to NXEA's record in tackling delays caused by train faults. Passengers have suffered from long delays recently as a consequence of overrunning maintenance work.

As well as over-running engineering work last week, Mr Chivers said it had also emerged that “some of the additional infrastructure problems on Tuesday and Wednesday resulted from sub-standard installation of equipment during the same weekend engineering work programme”. “Network Rail have already carried out an initial investigation, which suggests that the key causes of the problems related to poor project management, inadequate programme preparation and unsatisfactory real time delivery of the works by the contractors...,” Mr Chivers said. “They are taking steps to ensure that better planning and monitoring of such schemes is in place for future projects.

“We have acted quickly to raise our concerns with the Network Rail Route Director, Andrew Munden. In addition, our group chief executive Dean Finch has also met personally with the Network Rail Chairman, Rick Haythornthwaite, to emphasise just how damaging such disruption is for our passengers and to highlight our wider discontent that the rate of performance improvement and overall punctuality standards being achieved by Network Rail on the Great Eastern Mainline are not acceptable. Their progress in reducing infrastructure-related delays over the last seven years has been minor in comparison to the major reduction we have achieved in delays caused by train faults.”

He added that National Express East Anglia had also appointed a manager to work at the joint control centre in London, and would co-locate teams at Network Rail depots to increase the urgency in Network Rail’s decision-making and create a “greater focus on passengers’ needs”.

Whilst the Essex Rail Users Federation welcomes this public criticism by NXEA of the services provided by Network Rail there is concern too that NXEA's handling of these problems can be handled so much better.  Improved communications, including the reintroduction of a text alerting service and better use of the NXEA website, are essential.

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