Number of train passengers forced to use replacement bus services ‘hits highest level for a decade’

Passengers have been hit with weekend disruption (Picture: PA)
Passengers have been hit with weekend disruption (Picture: PA)

The number of train passengers who had to use rail replacement bus services has reached its highest level for at least ten years, it has been reported.

More than a fifth of trains failed to run as plan at weekends over the past year, The Times said.

It said 22% of Saturday and Sunday timetables were dropped, much more than the target of 10%.

The report said buses were used on average for 17,050 hours a month for a year, compared with 10,500 hours a month at the beginning of the decade.

Passenger watchdog Transport Focus accused the government and the rail network of concealing the impact of rail upgrades, which will see £38 billion of work carried out between 2014 and 2019 and a further £48 billion in the five years that follow.

Thousands of passengers were forced on to replacement buses last year (Picture: PA)
Thousands of passengers were forced on to replacement buses last year (Picture: PA)

Transport Focus said its surveys of passengers had shown a “significant decline” in satisfaction with weekend services in the past year.

There has been an increase in rail replacement buses because of projects such as Crossrail, the upgrade of the Thameslink line through London and improvements between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

MOST POPULAR TODAY ON YAHOO

The use of buses increased by 5.4% in the past year. The annual average between 2014 and 2018 was 14,924 hours a month.

The average between 2009 and 2014 was 10,548.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, told The Times: “We haven’t yet come anywhere near an honest debate about the impact that those mega-projects and day-to-day maintenance have on the running of the timetable, especially at the weekends, and the level of disruption that passengers will have to bear.

“There needs to be honesty about the fact that when you suddenly start spending billions on networks that have been historically underfunded it will cause disruption.”

The number of rail replacement services increased last year (Picture: PA)
The number of rail replacement services increased last year (Picture: PA)

In the year to the beginning of March, 77.9% of weekend trains ran on schedule, down from 80.2% on the previous year.

The average between 2009 and 2014 was nearly 85 per cent, it was reported.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said: “Passengers are set to benefit from an explosion in investment in recent years, which continues a pace, with some £130m being invested every week in things like new platforms, new stations, new bridges and junctions.

“This investment is preparing the infrastructure to receive thousands of new services that will start to be introduced this year.

“The size and scale of this investment means much of our work is done over nights, weekends, and bank holidays when there are fewer passengers travelling.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting