The UK’s Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has asked Network Rail to improve the performance of its track management and infrastructure.

The direction is based on ORR’s newly released half-year Network Rail Monitor report covering April to mid-October 2018.

As per the report, punctuality and reliability of Network Rail trains were at their lowest levels for five years.

Several factors including extreme weather and problems implementing the May 2018 timetable have been the causes of poor performance.

ORR has also issued a provisional order to Network Rail and its route managing directors to take three actions to improve its performance.

The first improvement to be made is the acceleration of engagement with train operators to review and develop measures to address the causes of poor performance.

“Today’s decision is a clear demonstration of ORR’s approach to how we will hold Network Rail to account.”

The second action is the delivery of a report on the ways of identifying common issues related to performance planning and the implementation of its findings. The deadline is 15 February 2019.

ORR also ordered Network Rail to provide subsequent and regular updates on progress in implementing its report.

ORR chief executive John Larkinson said: “Today’s decision is a clear demonstration of ORR’s approach to how we will hold Network Rail to account.

“Passengers and freight customers rely on Network Rail for punctual and reliable train services and the evidence we have collected suggests to us that Network Rail is failing to take all reasonable steps to effectively manage performance and recover from incidents on its network. This is a capability issue which must be addressed urgently.

“We need to act now, rather than wait for the end of the financial year, to ensure Network Rail is ready for the start of the next control period, CP6, on 1 April 2019.”

In addition to the ORR review, several independent reviews on the train performance have been concluded in the UK. The reviews underline a number of areas for Network Rail and train operators to improve.