Network Rail warned over increase in delays

The decline in train performance has accelerated in recent months, new figures show.

Just 70.2% of passenger trains in Britain’s arrived at stations on time in September, compared with 72.6% in April, according to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

Punctuality has declined since the highs recorded during coronavirus lockdowns, when passenger numbers plummeted.

The ORR also said the performance of freight trains is at its lowest point in the past five years.

It has written to infrastructure management company Network Rail highlighting areas for improvement.

They include better track reliability in the North West and Central region, greater resilience of overhead lines in the Eastern region, and the renewal of track on the Thameslink core route that connects north and south London.

ORR chief executive John Larkinson said: “Passengers and freight are suffering from poor train performance, with issues extending across all of Network Rail’s regions.

“There are of course factors beyond Network Rail’s control to delivering good train performance, including further industrial action and potential extreme weather events.

“And there are areas such as trespass and theft where Network Rail has worked hard to reduce delays. But it can nevertheless do more.

“It is essential that the company now delivers on the specific interventions we have set out today.

“We will continue to scrutinise delivery and will take further action if there is insufficient progress.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “While train performance remains well ahead of pre-Covid levels, there is no doubt that a long, hot, dry summer, accompanied by strikes, industrial unrest and a fall-off in infrastructure reliability is taking its toll.

“We recognise the issues and problems at the root of this and are working hard to make improvements and provide both our passengers and freight users a better service they can rely on.”