NETWORK RAIL (NR) faces being slapped with a £2 million fine — that would be funded by the taxpayer — for delays and poor performance, a regulator revealed yesterday.
The publicly owned body breached its licence after missing punctuality targets over the past year, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) found.
A third of minor delays and almost half of cancelled and significantly delayed services in England and Wales were on Southern and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) lines.
Southern, GTR and Scotland services were graded “below expectations” by the regulator.
“Significantly underestimated” works to GTR services at London Bridge station caused severe disruption earlier this year, which saw trapped commuters resort to leaping over ticket gates to escape the rush-hour crush.
NR has a chance to offer “reparations” to affected passengers, ORR proposed, instead of having to pay the huge penalty.
But, the organisation would need a “reallocation of existing resources to pay [the fine],” managing director of network operations at NR Phil Hufton said.
NR paying millions of pounds is “effectively the taxpayer fining themselves” and “a ludicrous way to run a railway,” Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said.
“The fines will have to be paid for by axing works or cutting staff, creating a vicious cycle of decline that is self-defeating and will just mean more fines and more cuts in the future which is a nonsense.”
A “coherent and joined-up approach to running our railways” would mean renationalisation and “an end to fragmentation and profiteering,” he added.
TSSA union leader Manuel Cortes said: “It is simply a mad money-go-round.”