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London and south east dragging down national performance

The recent national decline in performance during the third quarter of 2015-16 was majorly driven by deteriorating performance across London and the south east sector, figures have shown. 

Office of Rail and Road (ORR) figures indicated a PPM of 84.5% across the sector, its worst Q3 performance since 2005-06.

Its PPM MAA, at 88.1%, was also the lowest recorded since nearly a decade.

According to the rail regulator, these stark figures were partly attributable to an increase in delays linked to Network Rail, including fatality and trespass incidents, as well as track faults, such as broken rails.

But delays attributable to the operators themselves, in particular related to rolling stock and traincrew issues, were “up considerably more” this quarter compared to the same time last year.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), one of the TOCs which runs services in London and the south east, had the worst performance of all operators.

Down 3.5 percentage points compared to last year, the operator's PPM figure of 75.6% was its lowest in any Q3 since the time series began. Its PPM during peak hours was also remarkably low: at 66.2%, down 2.2 percentage points from last year. It was the operator's worst performance in any quarter since this time series began in 2007-08.

GTR has also bagged the lowest ranking in performance in the last five consecutive quarters, despite this usually being recorded by long distance operators.

This dip in performance, albeit longstanding, can be partly owed to ongoing engineering works at London Bridge, as well as major delay incidents during the third quarter. These included a signal failure near Purley, technical fleet failure at Selhurst and a fatality at East Croydon.

Elsewhere in the capital, however, TfL Rail - which has boasted a consistent rise in performance quarter-on-quarter - saw a PPM rise of four percentage points to 95.2%.

Across the entire network, the national PPM stood at 85.4%, one percentage point below last year's figure. Just six operators, all franchised, saw a rise in performance, with the other 17 TOCs experiencing a decline.

The worst of these performance drops was observed across Caledonian Sleeper, whose PPM fell by a staggering 9.4 percentage points to 80.3%. It was also delayed by 30 minutes or more, or cancelled entirely, 15% of the time -  a difference of 9.1 percentage points compared to last year.

Although the Serco franchise’s performance has dwindled in the last few months, this quarter's poor figures are partly linked to recent flooding that battered the north of England and Scotland over the festive period - most notably Storm Frank, which shut a section of the West Coast Main Line near Carlisle. The section is expected to reopen in March.

Despite recording the sharpest decline in performance, the Caledonian Sleeper still performed better than First TransPennine Express (79.8%) and GTR.

First TransPennine also recorded the second worst amount of delays, with nearly 10% of services held back by half an hour or more or cancelled entirely, with the floods again a major factor.



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