Rail Industry Focus


The right time for on time

Source: RTM Oct/Nov 2019


Jay Symonds, senior analyst in the ORR’s information and analyst team, provides the low down on the new ‘On Time’ punctuality measures following the first release of the to-the-minute statistics.

On 19 September this year, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) published our latest set of statistics on passenger rail performance. The quarterly release is always studied closely by people within and outside the industry eager for hard facts on how well the rail network is serving passengers.

But this time we used a new measure, ‘On Time’. This not only gives the travelling public a better picture of overall punctuality, but also helps industry identify performance issues and then fix them more quickly, which means more trains arrive on time. The new measure was developed in Control Period 5 and has been used operationally by Network Rail, Rail Delivery Group and others to monitor performance and ultimately improve train services for passengers.

At the ORR, we used this new measure in our passenger rail performance statistical release to aid transparency of train performance. The new-look statistics include charts presenting historical trends in passenger rail performance, information on the causes of delay and interactive dashboards which allow users to look at ‘On Time’ performance and train cancellation levels by train operator.

The On Time measure registers trains as being punctual only when they arrive at recorded station stops within one minute of schedule. This ‘to the minute’ measure of train punctuality is more in-tune with passengers’ feelings of when their train is ‘on time’ and also monitors punctuality at all recorded station stops on a train’s route. This differs from the long-standing Public Performance Measure (PPM) of rail punctuality, which monitors the proportion of trains arriving within five or 10 minutes of their scheduled time, dependent on the service. In addition, PPM only measures punctuality at each train’s final destination.

The On Time measure is accompanied by a number of other new performance measures. These include ‘Time to 3’ and ‘Time to 15’ which measure the proportion of recorded station stops arrived at within three and 15 minutes respectively of the scheduled time. In terms of the latest punctuality performance, 64.7% of recorded station stops in Great Britain arrived ‘on time’ (within one minute of schedule) in the year ending June 2019. The equivalent figures for Time to 3 and Time to 15 measures were 83.9% and 98.4% respectively.

To measure train reliability, our statistics also now include a new cancellations measure. This is a weighted score reflecting the proportion of train services that didn’t call at one or more scheduled stops on their journeys, or didn’t run at all. For the year ending June 2019, the cancellations measure in Great Britain was 2.8%. A delay attribution process is used to apportion the responsibility for cancellations and any one cancellation can be split between multiple causes.

The ORR publishes a range of official statistics on rail, including rail usage, safety, assets, performance, fares, finance and complaints. For the latest passenger rail performance statistics, data tables and interactive dashboards, check out the link below.


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