The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has imposed a £14m fine on Network Rail because it found what it called ‘systemic weaknesses’ in Network Rail’s planning and execution of engineering work, representing a serious continuing breach of its licence.
The problems had been exposed in ORR’s investigation into the overruns over the New Year.
Network Rail considered that the problems highlighted were not systemic and that the proposed penalty was unnecessary and excessive. It also proposed a scheme for it to commit to spending £14m on a series of improvements if ORR mitigated the penalty.
Passenger Focus, train operators and others, supported Network Rail’s proposed alternative to a fine.
But ORR chief executive Bill Emery said that the ORR had considered the representations very carefully, and that it remained convinced that the systemic weaknesses it found in Network Rail’s approach to planning and execution of its engineering work were a serious and continuing breach of its licence and merited the large fine.
‘We consider that to accept Network Rail’s proposal to mitigate the fine in its entirety would reduce the effectiveness of the incentive that penalties place on the company to secure compliance with its licence. We are therefore confirming the penalty of £14m.’