Stoppages—April 2022 to September 2022

Published: Monday, 03 October 2022

THE Canal & River Trust has a statutory duty to maintain its waterways for navigation.

A strict interpretation would be that any closure (i.e. stoppage), however short, is a failure of its statutory duty. However, boaters tend to be pragmatic and understand that scheduled closures when the system is less used (i.e. Winter Works) help to prevent stoppages when the waterways are busier.

Claims it is slowly improving

CaRT claim that the condition of its waterways assets is slowly improving as evidenced by Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) published in successive Annual Reports. Up until four years ago the trust published 'days lost to unplanned closures'.

This came to an abrupt end when it was shown to be fiddling the figures in an attempt to show that the number of lost days was falling rather than rising!

Since 2017/18 CaRT's Annual Reports have made no mention of days lost to unplanned closures. However, that has not stopped Allan Richards from interrogating CaRT's stoppage database and producing figures for the first half of CaRT's current financial year.

cartsclaimvsactual origHistorical data

First of all, what is 'days lost'. Quite simply it is the sum of the duration (in days) of each stoppage over a financial year. The table below, produced in 2018, gives the 'days lost' KPI taken from Annual Reports.

The second column shows figures taken from Annual Reports, whilst the third column shows figures calculated by Allan from CaRT's stoppage database. As will be seen, CaRT has been claiming that it has been reducing days lost to unplanned closures whilst interrogating its database shows the exact opposite.

Note the figure at the bottom right. In 2017/18, the KPI reported in the Annual Report was less than one fifth of the 'days lost' found from its database.

Since, the table was produced, it has been found that CaRT deletes some stoppages from its database shortly after they end. Thus the actual 'days lost' (column 3) may be significantly higher than previously stated.

Stoppages April2022 September2022A new strategy

As a spin off from a non-waterways project, a new 'snapshot' strategy has been developed for recording 'lost days'. This strategy does not depend on CaRT retaining information on its database when a stoppage ends.

Here is a graph of the number of stoppages found each day for the first six months of CaRT's current financial year.

Some will recall that not only did CaRT fail to undertake over a dozen Winter Works projects but also failed to complete a number within the winter works period.

This is reflected in the April and May figures with the last Winter Works project not completing until 27 May. In total there were 139 'days lost' due to Winter Works overruns.

Water resources

Stoppages due to water resources (i.e. drought) started in June, resulting in a three month upward trend.

For those that want an understanding of water resources try 'Water Resource Strategy 2015-2020'. A link is at the bottom of this web page:

Yearly updates until 2020 can also be found on the same page.

Sadly, little seems to have been achieved in terms of implementing this strategy or refreshing it for 2021-2025.

CaRT's knee-jerk reaction to the current appalling water resources situation is a commitment in its annual report to provide a second strategy rather than consider what went wrong with the first one...

Other figures

Stoppages vary from less than a day to years in duration. Narrowboatworld has been reporting 'a new stoppage every day' and this can be confirmed with over 200 new stoppages commencing within the six months under review.

Over the first six months of CaRT's 2022/23 financial year a staggering 4,095 days have been lost to navigation. On an average day more than 22 stoppages have been in force.

Compare this six month figure of 4095 to CaRT's 2017/18 claim of just 490 'days lost' over 12 months...