Junction (Photo Network Rail)

UK: The Office of Rail & Road says its annual assessment of how Network Rail engages with its stakeholders shows a strong performance in the past year, although overall satisfaction has dipped slightly.

ORR assessed how well Network Rail performed against four principles of good stakeholder engagement defined in its licence from the regulator: inclusive, transparent, well-governed and effective.

The assessment derives from a stakeholder survey commissioned by ORR from Opinion Research Services, and Network Rail’s business unit self-assessments. It covers the third year of Control Period 6, from April 1 2021 to March 31 2022.

A total of 288 industry stakeholders shared their experiences with ORR, a response rate of 9% which was an increase from the previous year but at the lower range of ORR’s expectations.

When asked to rate the quality of Network Rail’s overall engagement, 60% of respondents deemed it as good or very good, but this is a drop of 13% from last year.

Overall, however, ORR said Network Rail’s performance on stakeholder engagement remains strong. There were no significant differences between business units in terms of performance, although each had different areas of strength and areas for further development. The self-assessments provided good evidence of improvements the business units have made.

ORR has repeated the recommendation from last year’s report that Network Rail’s senior leadership team and board drive a strong culture of stakeholder engagement whilst continuing to support locally tailored activity across the relevant business units. The regulator added that this will be particularly important through the crucial next phases of ORR’s ongoing periodic review of Network Rail’s outputs and funding for the next five year control period.

ORR also encourages Network Rail to continue to share best practice on stakeholder engagement between its business units.