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Average rail performance continues to drop nationally

The trend in national rail performance looks set to hit its lowest level in eight years, as operators failed to recover during period 10.

The Network Rail published figure, which covers operator performance for 13 December to 9 January, showed a PPM moving annual average (MAA) of 89.2%. The latest quarterly figure is still being calculated by the ORR, but based on monthly figures already released (which have not broken above 89.5%), looks likely to be 89.2% or 89.3%.

This would be the lowest figure since Q3 in 2007-8.

The national MAA figure (which annualises the statistics to account for seasonal variations) was on a general upward trend from its modern nadir in 2001, finally breaking the 90% barrier in Q1 2008-9. It then stayed above 90% until Q1 2014-15, since when it has been hovered between 89% and 90%.

Although performance is always worse in the winter, PPM figures for this latest period were lower than those in the same period last year. The worst figure was for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which has been on a downwards slump for months, particularly since it became the largest single UK franchise in July.

It has been, or has been among, the worst-performing operator for several periods. In November, the rail regulator revealed it recorded the worst quarterly punctuality figure in over a decade. The regulator has also warned that GTR’s performance could worsen even further due to a lack of adequate modelling and planning around its timetable.

Nearly 10% of its services have also experienced cancellations or significant lateness during this period. This is recorded when a train is cancelled en route or in origin, when the originating station is changed, if the service fails to make a scheduled stop at a station or when the journey is over 30 minutes late.

The Caledonian Sleeper continues to perform poorly compared to last year. In period 9, its performance had dropped by a staggering 22.3 percentage points since the same period last year, standing at 72.3%.

It has now improved considerably, standing at 76.2%, but still compares to a PPM of 85.6% last year.

First Hull Trains, one of the three TOCs whose performance dropped below 80% in period 8, also had a bad December. During this last month, it recorded a performance figure of 76.4%, contrasting sharply with the 85.9% figure the previous year.

The open access operator also saw the highest cancellation and significant lateness figure of all TOCs, with almost 14% of services delayed or disrupted.

A handful of other operators – including Arriva Trains Wales, c2c, Chiltern and Southeastern – have also seen their PPM figures drop marginally compared to the year before.

TfL Rail continues to improve its performance, with a figure of 95.7% this period – marginally higher than last year and in period 9. Both Virgin Trains franchises also shook off last period’s slump, when both recorded PPMs significantly below 80% – now recovering to 82% in the West Coast and 81.1% in the East Coast. Their cancellation and lateness figures have also decreased considerably compared to period 9, during which they were amongst the highest.


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