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Maintenance funding doubled over eight years – continued unstable operations: Weak management and follow-up of maintenance work on the rail network

​The rail network is still unstable, despite nearly 110 per cent growth in maintenance appropriations from 2006 to 2014. "The Norwegian National Rail Administration and the Ministry of Transport and Communications do not exercise good enough management, and the Ministry has little information regarding whether the appropriations are used efficiently," says Auditor General Per-Kristian Foss.

Published 3/15/2016 1:00 PM

​Document 3:10 (2015–2016) The Office of the Auditor General's investigation of maintenance efficiency in the rail network was submitted to the Storting on 15 March.

All fiscal budgets over the last 15 years have flagged improvement of railway operation and maintenance as high-priority areas. The Office of the Auditor General has investigated whether or not the Norwegian National Rail Administration carries out effective maintenance that also safeguards practical transportation.

The investigation reveals that the increased appropriations have done little to achieve stabile operations targets. While operational stability has improved from 2011, both uptime and regularity factors measured in the Norwegian National Rail Administration are still poorer in 2014 than in 2006.

“It is unacceptable that the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Norwegian National Rail Administration have not achieved better results, given the increased appropriations," says the Auditor General.

The investigation shows that the management of the Norwegian National Rail Administration has not succeeded in making certain that the necessary systems and information are in place to ensure good management. Important information that is used in part to prioritise the maintenance work is of low quality. Moreover, the agency has not developed a system to measure the productivity in the maintenance work.

"These failures on the part of the Norwegian National Rail Administration mean that the Ministry of Transport and Communications receives very limited information as to whether the appropriations are used effectively. The Ministry has a duty to ensure that it has necessary, reliable information so that it can exercise appropriate control," says Foss.

The Storting has been informed about the maintenance lag in the railway infrastructure on a number of occasions. This backlog was estimated at NOK 17.7 billion at the end of 2014, which is equivalent to more than one year's entire appropriations to the Norwegian National Rail Administration for operations, maintenance and investments.

"We see that the maintenance lag poses a challenge as far as achieving stable railway operations. However, uncertainties surrounding how this lag is calculated and the lack of production data makes it difficult to determine whether increased appropriations have yielded a comparable increase in performed maintenance," says Foss.

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