HS1 speeding ahead, ORR says


HS1 Ltd has exceeded expectations during the past year, with minimal delays, low costs and an income surplus of £1.6m.

The company operates and maintains the railway between St Pancras and the Channel Tunnel. It is the owner of the stations along the route and is jointly owned by Borealis Infrastructure and Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, two Canadian pension funds.

A Eurostar train at St Pancras

Rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), has published its annual report on the company, which found that it operated well in 2015-16, with only 0.44% of services being delayed by HS1 Ltd-attributable incidents. 

The report noted that although a number of passengers have experienced significant delays over the past year, particularly those travelling on international services, these issues were largely caused by factors such as trespass that were ‘not attributable to the company’.

The ORR found that the company’s performance was ‘significantly better than the floor target’. Excluding four major trespass incidents, which raised the overall delay average, the average was 5.1 seconds delay per train – beating HS1’s internal target of 5.5 seconds.

Traffic volume on the line increased, with around 1750 more trains per year than were assumed in the ORR’s last periodic review, mainly due to the increase on the St Pancras – Ashford domestic route.

Graham Richards, the ORR's interim director of railway planning and performance, said: ‘It is positive to see the company has performed well in the last financial year, as we would expect for a young railway with relatively new infrastructure assets.

‘We will continue to work with HS1 Ltd to ensure that the network continues to meet the needs of its customers, so that a safe, efficient, high-value asset is returned to government at the end of the concession period.’

Overall, HS1 Ltd’s income exceeded expenditure by £1.6m, which was £3m better than the ORR’s expectations.

The company generated ‘regulated income’ of £70.5m, which was £4.6m higher than the ORR’s assumption. This included £2.1m was income recovered from Network Rail (High Speed) Ltd in relation to performance related payments, for payment to operators.

It spent £66.8m operating, maintaining and renewing its rail infrastructure in the year, which was £0.5m lower than ORR had expected.

While HS1 Ltd is responsible for the overall management and operation of the HS1 network, the responsibility for the infrastructure itself is subcontracted to Network Rail (High Speed) Ltd.

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