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UK rail has worst performance figures in a decade

UK rail performance fell to its worst since 2006 in the last year, the latest figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show.

The national performance and punctuality measure (PPM) in 2015-16 was 89.1%, the lowest since 88.1% in 2006-07.

The individual operator with the worst PPM was Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) at 81.5%, followed by Virgin East Coast (85.2%) and Virgin West Coast and Caledonian Sleeper (86%).


Caledonian Sleeper also had the biggest PPM drop since the previous year, with a 3.9% decrease, followed by Virgin East Coast (3.4%) and GTR (2.3%).

Yesterday, the ORR approved Virgin, along with FirstGroup, to run new services on the East Coast Main Line in the future.

The operators with the best PPM were c2c (96.7%), Merseyrail (95.3%) and Chiltern Railways and London Overground both recorded a 94.4% figure.

However, even these operators had all experienced a decline in PPM compared to 2014-15.

In the most recent monthly PPM figures, the TOCs with the biggest drop in performance were Grand Central, c2c and Virgin.

London Bridge works ‘like driving on the M25 with one lane closed’

The ORR report pointed out that many of these problems were due to issues outside of the control of TOCs.

GTR has experienced delays due to on-going engineering works at London Bridge, embankment subsidence between Polegate and Lewes, a signal failure near Earlswood and ice on the conductor rail between Lewes and Wivelsfield.

A GTR spokesperson told RTM that while company staff were “doing [their] very best” to improve punctuality, the impact of the London Bridge works was “like driving on the M25 with one lane closed” and not only caused delays but made them up to four times more difficult to recover from.

The most recent edition of RTM features an article by Nick Gray, principle programme sponsor for Thameslink, on the London Bridge upgrades.

Similarly, Virgin East Coast services suffered from strong winds in north east England, a fatality at Sandy, a gas leak near Durham and a fire near Grantham.

In contrast, c2c operates on a relatively simple route with little interaction with other TOCs.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “Our challenge is that the railway is used more intensively than almost any other in Europe, and the number of trains run has risen by 28% in 17 years, while the size of the network has hardly changed.”

Among open access operators, Heathrow Express had a PPM of 91.8%, Grand Central had 86.6% and Hull Trains had 85.3%.

PPM experienced the biggest decline in the London and south east, at 1.2%, compared to 0.7% nationally and 0.1% in the regional and Scotland sector.

Cancellation and lateness at worst since 2004

Cancellation and significant lateness (CaSL) experienced an even longer historic low, with the national rate reaching 3.1%, the worst since 3.2% in 2004-05.

Caledonian Sleeper had the worst CaSL at 10.4%, followed by First TransPennine Express with 5.8% and Virgin East Coast with 5.5%.

CaSL increased in every sector except regional and Scotland, where it remained the same. In the long distance sector alone it increased by 4.6%.


(Image c. Andrew Matthews)

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Hugh   13/05/2016 at 13:26

Another Tory success = shambolic. How bad does it have to get before this clearly failed rail transport strategy is stopped?

Lutz   13/05/2016 at 19:12

@Hugh - Another example of politically motivated FUD with the aim of restoring the railways to the personal fiefdom of Trade Union activists.

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