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GTR responsible for 80% of London and south east PPM drop in Q1

Performance failures across troubled Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) services were responsible for 80% of the decline in public performance measure (PPM) figures in the first quarter of 2016-17, figures from the ORR show.

The London and South East (LSE) sector recorded a PPM score of 86.8% in quarter one, down 3.4 percentage points compared with the same quarter in the previous year – and the lowest Q1 score since 2004-5.

Although GTR only operates 28% of services in the LSE sector, it was responsible for 2.7 percentage points of this overall 3.4 percentage point fall.

Nationally, the picture was bleaker – down 2.2 percentage points compared with the first quarter of 2015-16, this year’s Q1 national PPM stood at 89.2% – the worst score recorded in over a decade.

Services in the regional and Scotland sector recorded a PPM of 92.8%, down 0.6 percentage points compared with this time last year and the worst Q1 score since 2008-9, while the long distance sector racked up the worst Q1 score (89.2%) since 2008-9.

Although the overall rail performance is still better than that recorded in the early 2000s, the regulator said the national PPM moving annual average (MAA) has also “declined steadily” since the start of 2013-14.

“Notwithstanding the extra five minutes afforded to long distance services for meeting PPM, this sector has historically had the lowest PPM scores,” it added in today’s report. “The sector ended Q1 with a PPM MAA of 87.4%. Above the MAA of the LSE sector (87%), this is the first time this has been the case since the series began in 1997-98.”

Operator performance and delays

As expected and recently reflected by Network Rail figures, GTR saw the lowest drop in PPM (almost 10 percentage points) in this quarter compared to this time last year, some of which the ORR attributed to ongoing works at London Bridge. Its overall PPM figure was just over 76%, significantly behind the national average and much lower than the second worst performing operator, Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) – which racked up a PPM of 85.2% (4.2 percentage points lower than last year).

625 performance

The ORR also said VTEC’s performance was in part due to a “number of major delay incidents” that occurred on the East Coast Main Line in Q1. “These included a lineside fire near Newark, two fatalities in the Stevenage area and a dewirement near Retford,” the report said.

Perhaps due to this, VTEC also saw the second worst drop in cancellations and significant lateness (CaSL), down 3.1 percentage points to 6.5%. GTR saw over 9% of its services affected by cancellations and significant lateness (at least 30 minutes delay), despite cancelling many of its services.

Of GTR’s cancellation and delay performance figure, the ORR said: “This was more than double the score of last year (4.5%) and was the highest CaSL score recorded by this TOC in any quarter since the time series began in 2004-05.

“Full cancellations accounted for 2.8 pp of the increase, with more than half of GTR CaSL failures in Q1 resulting from traincrew problems. By contrast, traincrew problems accounted for around a quarter of all CaSL failures in Q1 of 2015-16.

“It should also be noted that GTR planned to run nearly 11,000 fewer trains in Q1 of 2016-17 compared with the same quarter last year. This represents a reduction of 3.7%.”

Hull Trains, Heathrow Express, Grand Central and South West Trains also experienced considerable performance dips of 4.1, 3.6, 3.1 and 2.9 percentage points respectively.

c2c loses top spot

Overall, most operators saw a decrease – even if marginal – in performance. But Caledonian Sleeper improved its PPM by 3.4 percentage points. TfL Rail and Virgin Trains West Coast followed behind with performance uplifts of 2.6 and 1.9 percentage points respectively. Fifteen of the 20 franchised operators maintained a PPM of over 90%.

Merseyrail recorded the highest proportion of trains on time this quarter at 96.4%, with c2c following behind at 95.8% – marking the first time since 2014-15 that the operator did not top the performance charts. Merseyrail also achieved the best/lowest cancellation and lateness figure, with less than 2% of its services suffering delays.

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