In the news this week

Network Rail is always in the news.

Catering for 4.5m rail journeys every single day, while simultaneously delivering an ambitious, multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan focused on renewing and upgrading 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges and viaducts, thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run), means we have a wide-reaching impact and the work we do is extremely newsworthy. 

Every week, we'll highlight just a few of those interesting news stories.

Friday 2 March, 2018 

Snow causing widespread travel disruption - BBC

News this week has been dominated by the weather. ‘The Beast from the East’ has made headlines; deaths, delays and closures on the roads, plus cancelled flights have been wrapped-up with rail delays and cancellations by all national papers. Though roads are the focus of most of the stories, including the BBC, the top line from Network Rail is that we are coping fairly well under difficult circumstances, working hard to keep passengers moving and track clear, but delays are to be expected.

Additionally, sparked by the snow and using old figures available on our transparency pages, The Independent and others report we’ve paid £2bn in compensation to train operators between 2011 and 2017 for cancellations and delays caused by bad weather, engineering work and other disruption. Their stories spin it as train operators being ‘rewarded for failure’ but fail to mention train companies can in turn get 'fined' by us for delays they cause. They incorrectly confuse the issue with money that’s paid to passengers by the train companies noting it amounts to just £187m for the same period.

These payments are overseen by the rail regulator, which says they keep costs down for taxpayers and fare payers, and are completely separate from the money customers rightly received for delays.

The Rail Delivery Group

Cheaper train fares limited after timetable delay - Daily Mail

We are making temporary changes to the availability of the advanced final timetables for approximately six months, meaning these will be published later than normal. Announced by the Rail Delivery Group, this was reported by all the national papers including the Daily Mail.

Relief for passengers as train station toilet charges are scrapped - The Times

Toilet charges at Network Rail stations will be scrapped in 2019. The Times has the story.

As a customer organisation I think it is quite wrong to penalise people when they are in discomfort. Our job should be to make their life easier, not more difficult. As a company we want to treat people with dignity and respect whether they work for us or use our services.

Mark Carne, chief executive, Network Rail

More trains mean end of the line for timetables – The Times

Network Rail chairman Peter Hendy made a speech at the George Bradshaw address this week. The Times write it up as a story noting our aspirations that timetables will become a thing of the past. It’s reported Peter said predetermined train timetables will become obsolete within a decade due to the increase in the frequency of trains. Passengers will instead turn up at platforms and wait for the next train rather than book a specific service.

East Coast franchise (letter to editor) – Modern Railways

Rob McIntosh, route managing director for the London North East and East Midlands route gets his letter published in Modern Railways, sparked by the Virgin Train’s East Coast franchise withdrawal. Rob uses the opportunity to proudly share the Transport Focus survey results reminding readers three long-distance service providers on his route were voted best in country, as was his London station, King’s Cross.