Rail punctuality hits 13-year-low amid bad weather and strikes

Rail punctuality hits 13-year-low amid bad weather and strikes

Friday, December 28, 2018

Train punctuality has slumped to a 13-year low after a series of major issues plagued Britain's railway in 2018.

One in seven trains missed the industry's Public Performance Measure (PPM) of punctuality in the 12 months to December 8, according to Office of Rail and Road (ORR) figures.

Press Association analysis of historical data revealed this annual rolling average has not been worse since September 2005.

PPM measures whether a train arrives at its final destination within five minutes of the scheduled time, or 10 minutes for a long-distance service.

Punctuality has been affected by a number of problems over the past 12 months, including extreme weather, errors in the launch of new timetables, strikes and signalling failures.

Snow and ice crippled parts of the network when the Beast from the East hit Britain in February and March, while rails buckled due to a summer heatwave just three months later.

Passengers in the north and south-east of England faced weeks of chaos when new timetables were introduced on May 20.

Several operators have suffered disruption throughout the year due to a long-running industrial dispute over guards on trains.


'Long-term underinvestment'

Anthony Smith, chief executive of passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: "People using the railway need to be able the rely on the industry's most basic promise - the timetable.

"If that is not delivered passengers must make their voice heard and claim compensation.

"The new Rail Ombudsman now provides free, binding arbitration on unsettled disputes."

The cost of many rail season tickets will increase by more than £100 next week as average fares go up 3.1%.

There have been calls for prices to be frozen due to the poor performance of the industry.

Mr Smith added: "With rail fares set to rise yet again passengers will be looking to the rail industry to deliver a more reliable, better value for money service in 2019."

The Department for Transport has launched a review by former British Airways chief executive Keith Williams to consider all parts of the industry.

Emily Yates, co-founder of the Association of British Commuters told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham that the situation was being caused by “long-term underinvestment”.

“Today’s situation is the result of very long-term underinvestment and short-term political and ideological thinking, which has led us to the situation we are in today,” she said.

She added: “It is vanity projects over thinking about the bigger questions about what a railway is for society, and beyond questions of nationalisation and privatisation to think about who pays for the railways.”