Passengers will have to put up with weekend engineering work on the railways for years to come, it has been revealed.
Rail regulators said engineering work would be “much less disruptive” by 2014 but they added there would be still “some way to go” after that before a true seven-day railway would be operational.
The regulators also said they plan to introduce a new measure to determine just how much disruption was being caused by engineering works and would set disruption-reduction targets.
Minimising the problems caused by engineering work was just one of a series of improvements announced by the Office of Rail Regulation as it produced its “draft determinations” for Network Rail’s funding and projects for the five years starting in April 2009.
The ORR’s access, planning and performance director Michael Lee said: “NR is very conscious that there is too much disruption to services.
“ It is going to take a long time to achieve everything that can be done.”
Asked if the railways would be free of the frequent weekend engineering disruptions by 2014, Mr Lee replied: “There will be much less disruption by then but there will still be some way to go.”
A final ruling by the ORR on just what NR’s income for the period 2009-14 should be will be made at the end of October.
The ORR said NR’s income should be £26.5 billion which is less than the £29.2 billion NR had asked for.
The ORR backed some of the major project plans announced by the Government in its rail White Paper, saying they were affordable. These included the redevelopment of Birmingham New Street Station, the Thameslink scheme, rebuilding Reading station in Berkshire, work on the East Coast line from Peterborough to Doncaster, a new Glasgow Airport rail link and a new line from Airdrie to Bathgate in Scotland.
ORR chief executive Bill Emery said: “This is a good package for passengers, for freight customers and for taxpayers. There is no doubt there will be a material improvement in the rail service.”