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GTR marks two years at the bottom of TOC performance table

It has now been two years since Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) dropped to the bottom of the public performance measure (PPM) table, with the latest quarterly figures from the ORR showing the operator recorded its lowest score since the time series began in 2004.

The figures for Q2 show that GTR’s performance fell by almost 11 percentage points (to 73.1%) compared to the same quarter in 2015-16. This once again makes it the worst-performing operator amongst both franchise and non-franchised companies, as well as the operator with the most marked performance decline compared to last year.

The ORR said some of this sustained poor performance can be attributed to ongoing engineering works at London Bridge, but the operator has also been troubled by major staffing issues across its Southern branch.

Unions are currently stuck in an ongoing row with GTR management over proposals to fully introduce DOO services, and the RMT has recently urged the ORR to back its calls for Southern to halt DOO roll-out

Across other TOCs, 12 of the 20 franchised operators had a PPM of more than 90% in quarter 2. Topping the list was Merseyrail with a PPM of 96%, matching their performance in the same quarter last year. This was closely followed by London Overground with a PPM of 95.3%.

Despite 12 operators managing to stay above the 90% mark, 15 of them – including non-franchised TOCs – experienced a decline in performance compared to the year before. After GTR, the worst drops were experienced by Virgin Trains East Coast (81.6%) and Grand Central (83.3%), which both recorded a fall of 5.2 percentage points.

The c2c, which is known for usually topping PPM tables, also suffered a “relatively poor” performance. Although its PPM stood at 94.6%, this was their lowest score since 2005-6. The regulator said this was partly due to an increase in track faults on the route, but there has also been a surge in the number of technical faults with the TOC’s train fleet. Around 640 c2c PPM failures were attributed to such causes this quarter, said the ORR.

Only seven operators recorded a better performance in Q2 compared to the same quarter last year, although the highest of these improvements was just by 1.4 percentage points across London Midlands (90.4%).

Significant delays

In terms of cancellations and significant lateness (CaSL) – which captures the percentage of trains that were at least 30 minutes late – the Caledonian Sleeper was the worst-performing TOC, with over 10% of its services significantly delayed. The ORR said this is due to continued issues with overhead line equipment and technical fleet failures.

GTR recorded the second worst cancellation figure, with 9.9% of its trains delayed. This represented the most marked deterioration across all TOCs: a 5 percentage point increase in delays compared to 2015-16 – in other words, more than double last year’s score (4.9%).

Across these GTR delays, full cancellations accounted for 3.1 pp of the increase, with 46% of GTR CaSL failures in Q2 resulting from traincrew problems. In contrast, traincrew problems only accounted for a quarter of all CaSL failures in Q2 last year.

The operator with the least amount of significant delays was Northern (1.7%), followed by Merseyrail (1.8%), Heathrow Express (1.9%) and c2c (2%).

(Top image c. Andrew Matthews)

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