On time, or was it?
If trains are all late, but you get to where you need to be on time, is that late?
Transport Focus, the independent watchdog, has worked with Network Rail to explore passengers’ feelings about reliability when trains on their line come along every few minutes. Essentially, do they notice that the train they board at 08.27 is in fact the 08.17 running ten minutes late? Or are they just happy to board a train going to their destination within minutes of getting to the station?
The answer was clear: a late train is a late train, and late running damages passengers’ trust in the railway even if they get to their destination with no effective delay. Passengers also associate late trains with overcrowding and inability to get a seat – because disruption leads to a build-up of passengers who squeeze onto the next train.
Guy Dangerfield, head of strategy at the watchdog, says:
“We know that punctuality and reliability are critical to passengers. This research confirms just how important it is, even where there are so many trains that people may still get to their destination on time.
“This is a timely reminder to industry that it must never lose focus on punctuality.”
The report is available here.