By Max Clarke

Performance setbacks across Network Rail’s lines have overshadowed the recent successes of a number of major rail projects, the Office for Rail Regulation has today stated.

Of particular concern is safety; the Office for Rail Regulation blasted Network Rail’s ‘flawed’ safety culture in their 2010-11 assessment of the group, published today.

"Network Rail made good progress in some important areas last year,” said ORR chief executive, Bill Emery, “delivering improvements to many railway stations and lines across the country.

Network Rail also fell short of many of their performance targets, notably relating to delays and punctuality. Data released yesterday revealed that 1 in 13 trains falls behind schedule, for reasons including signal failures and even ‘cows on the line’. Emery explains:

"Network Rail missed the majority of its operational performance objectives for areas like punctuality, and it quickly needs to take steps to improve its safety culture. We want to see Network Rail learn quickly from its problems and to focus on improving performance that matters most to passengers.

“However,” continued Emery, “we have also seen performance setbacks and failures which mean that Network Rail faces big challenges if it is to meet the increasingly demanding targets it is funded to achieve.”

While the ORR declined to analyse the Group’s progress on improving efficiency, rising profits across Network Rail’s Train Operating Companies suggests that prices are increasing faster than base costs.