Train punctuality improvements amid fewer services

Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent
·2-min read

Rail punctuality and reliability have improved, although fewer services are running because of the coronavirus crisis, according to new figures.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said that between October to December there were 1.7 million trains planned, 11% fewer than the same quarter in the previous year, with 74.7% arriving on time.

The report said performance remained high compared to the same period in 2019, but was lower than previous quarters in 2020.

The punctuality of all 23 operators improved in the final three months of 2020 compared with a year earlier, said the report.

London North Eastern Railway, TransPennine Express and Transport for Wales had the biggest improvements.

The report also showed that 91.8% of trains arrived within five or 10 minutes of their final destination last year, the best figure since records began in 1997/8.

Around half of cancellations in the final quarter of last year were due to train operators, almost a third were attributed to Network Rail and one in five due to external incidents such as severe weather and trespassing.

ORR said the number of cancelled trains of 18 operators improved in the final three months of last year, with TransPennine Express, West Midlands Trains and Northern Trains having the largest decreases in cancellations.

Graham Richards, director of planning and performance at the ORR, said: “Rail passenger journeys remained around a third or less of the equivalent weekly levels in 2019 following travel restrictions in place to limit the spread of Covid-19.

“With 11% fewer trains running and fewer passengers compared to the same quarter last year, we’ve seen improvements in punctuality and reliability relative to previous years.

“When passengers do return, it is important that the rail industry maintains the good punctuality we’ve seen recently and provides clear and accurate information to help passengers plan and make journeys with confidence and ease.”

Susie Homan, director of people, operations and railway strategy for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said: “Rail companies are working together to learn from the good performance that we have been delivering during the pandemic.

“We are committed to maintaining these gains when restrictions ease in the coming months and more people begin to travel again, supporting Britain’s recovery from Covid.”