Issue: Rail Regulator fine
Railtrack has just published last year’s operating improvements,
announcing a ten per cent reduction in train delays over the last 12
However, the company’s regulatory body, the Rail Regulator, set
Railtrack a target of 12.7 per cent and promised to impose a fine of
pounds 4 million for each one per cent shortfall, which means that
Railtrack is liable to pay a fine of pounds 10 million. Railtrack is
appealing to the High Court.
The company believes the fine is in breach of the ’principle of
proportionality’ - CEO Gerald Corbett has said it is bizarre that the
penalty could lead to the highest fine in corporate history for an
improvement in service.
The site explains that Railtrack has lodged a judiciary appeal against
the proposed fine and that its ten per cent improvement in train delays
exceeds its own target of 7.5 per cent.
A Railtrack spokesperson said the site was regarded as an important
aspect of the communications strategy in targeting consumers and
However, the issue of the Rail Regulator’s expected fine is not made
apparent on Railtrack’s home page - the user must click on to the
operating improvements section to view the relevant information.
The home page of the Railtrack web site looks good, with a theme of
purple lines that appear to represent railway track and train signals.
The main areas that can be accessed are ’travel’, ’corporate’,
’shareholder’, ’freight’, ’major stations’ and ’major projects’. In the
’major stations’ section customers are given the opportunity to relay
any comments or criticisms they have of rail services.
There is also a separate banner for train timetables. When the user
clicks into the section they are invited to key in their starting
station and destination and are then presented with relevant times and
notification of any delays.
There is also a section called ’latest’ that posts news and issues, such
as progress on the Paddington crash enquiry. This is where information
on the Rail Regulator’s anticipated fine can be found, under ’Railtrack
announces end of year operating improvements’.
The statement announces that Railtrack has decreased train delays across
the network by 44 per cent over four years. Signal repeat failures are
down by 21 per cent and continued improvement in track quality is only
1.2 per cent short of its 2001 target.
Considering the excellent timetable service the site must attract a lot
of rail customers. It would therefore provide an ideal opportunity to
communicate the company’s view on the fine. Nonetheless, the site is
easily navigated, and full of information.