As the so-called “Beast from the East” delivers its fall of snow across England’s southern and eastern counties, train services are delayed or cancelled.
According to a news report on the BBC, Network Rail is paying compensation to Train Operating Companies (TOCs) when services have to be cancelled.
This seems to be like paying Marks & Spencer compensation if bad weather prevents enough customers from buying clothes or food from their stores.
M&S take the risk of weather affecting sales of their products, why do the private train companies receive compensation from Network Rail for cancelling services because of bad weather?
In a National Audit Office (NAO) report from 2008, this statement is noted in the report’s summary:
“Under the delay attribution system, Network Rail is held responsible for delays caused by infrastructure faults and those caused by external factors, such as bad weather.”
Why would you hold a man-made business responsible for a natural event?
The 2008 report can be found here: Reducing Passenger Delays by Better Management of Incidents
In 2012, major newspaper reports noted that TOCs were “cashing in” on delayed services. This was what the Daily Telegraph reported:
“The companies have profited out of industry rules which obliges Network Rail to pay train operators compensation if commuter services are more than five minutes late or long distance journeys are held up by more than 10 minutes.”
The report continued: Train-operators-cash-in-on-delays
Another newspaper – The Independent – carried a similar story, highlighting how private companies can claim compensation for late running and cancellations in 2012.
According to this report:
“Under Britain’s complicated rail franchise system, private train operators are able to claim compensation from the state-owned track operator Network Rail for problems on the line which cause disruption to services.”
Whilst it would be obvious to say that compensation was perfectly reasonable;le if over-running track or other infrastructure work was the cause of a delayed or cancelled train – bad weather affecting the track – really!!
Does it still happen today – 6 years later? If it does, it seems to me that Britain is still, in a practical sense, still operating a nationalised railway.
Well, according to another NAO report from 2015, explains how Network Rail operates, then Network Rail is still responsible for weather delays:
“Network Operations is held responsible for any delays attributed to
the infrastructure, including some outside of its direct control like the
weather, trespass, vandalism or fatalities. Around 60% of passenger
delays were attributed to Network Rail in the year to May 2015. The rest
were attributed to the train operators.”
The rest of this NAO report can be found here: A Short Guide to Network Rail
Fascinating – but why?