December 29, 2014

Network Rail launches inquiry into train service disruption

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THE CEO of Britain's infrastructure manager Network Rail (NR), Mr Mark Carne, has ordered an inquiry into the cause of late-running infrastructure work which resulted in the closure of London King's Cross station for an entire day on December 27 and major disruption to services out of London Paddington.

Passengers intending to travel on the East Coast Main Line had to journey north by Underground to Finsbury Park in order to board trains, while late-running engineering works on the Great Western Main Line led to numerous cancellations and delays to train services to western England.

"While we have completed a huge amount of work across the country which will improve millions of journeys, the last few days for many passengers have been miserable and again I apologise for the disruption this caused. The track work outside King's Cross has now been completed and we now move our focus to completing the other important projects over the New Year without any further unplanned disruption to passengers.

"Following the problems experienced at King's Cross and Paddington over Christmas, I have instructed Dr Francis Paonessa, who is the NR infrastructure projects director, to provide a report into the sequence of events and associated decision making that led to the problems experienced and to advise any immediate steps that we need to take to increase the robustness of our works delivery capability," says Carne. "I expect the report by the end of next week and I intend to publish the findings."

Carne has also called for a broader, industry-wide review, into the timing of major works programmes and the passenger contingency arrangements for such works. "We have an obligation to manage the essential safety maintenance and renewal activity that is required and we need to do this in a manner that minimises the overall impact on society at large. I will discuss this review with industry parties in the coming days before formalising the terms of reference for this review."

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