Network Rail has received a record fine over late trains.
The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) handed out a £53.1 million fine to the company after "shortfalls in performance" and a significant failure to hit punctuality targets. While Network Rail highlighted the delivery of a multi-billion pound investment programme to build better railways, safety improvement at level crossings and a record number of passengers, it did concede that it had fallen short of its punctuality targets.
Figures from the ORR showed that almost 87 per cent of Network Rail's train ran on time during 2013/14 but this was set against a target of 92 per cent. Last year saw 1.5 billion passengers use the nation's railways, a significant increase from 1.2 billion recorded five years earlier. Network Rail was praised by the ORR for "modernising and improving" the nation's railways but it could escape the biggest fine since 2008.
Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said: "We accept that we have fallen short of the regulatory targets for train punctuality and that this is, in part, down to our failure to reduce infrastructure faults quickly enough.
"At the same time, the sharp increase in passenger demand has led us to run more trains at peak times, even when we know this will lead to a more congested railway and that punctuality may suffer."
The money from the fine is expected to be used for installing faster Wi-FI on commuter trains across England and Wales. The BBC reports that the £90 million scheme will use funds from the fine to help people get online while on trains. This prove a huge benefit for business passengers who need to travel to meetings on a regular basis.
Network Rail's fine relates to late running services on Cross Country, East Coast, First Transpennine Express and Virgin services among others.
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