Transport User Voice – June 2019 – Punctuality and reliabilty

28 May 2019

Still room for improvement  

On 24 May the Office of Rail and Road published the latest set of rail punctuality results. While there has been some improvement in the last quarter (January-March) the results over the entire year are far less reassuring.   

  • Nationally, punctuality is worse than in 2017-18, with 86.3 per cent of trains arriving on time (a drop of 1.5 percentage points).
  • Results for Regional and Scotland sectors are 86.2% (down 3.4 percentage points); Long Distance is 81.3% (down 4 percentage points).  
  • The London and South East sector recorded the same results as 2017-18 at 86.9 per cent but even this figure masks a drop in punctuality for peak-time services (down to 80.7 per cent). 

These results and those of individual train companies can be seen online.  

Why does this particular set of statistics matter so much?  Because all of Transport Focus’s research points to the critical importance of punctuality and reliability.  

Punctuality is invariably one of passengers’ top priorities for improvementit is the biggest single driver of passenger satisfaction and the bedrock upon which train companies can build up levels of trust and begin to improve their relationships with passengers.  

In several submissions to the Williams Rail Review, Transport Focus has argued that the focus of the review must be on putting passengers’ needs at the heart of the railway – and high up amongst these needs is punctuality and reliability.   

Part of this involves aligning industry incentives to make sure that all parts of the railway are pulling in the same direction; part involves having the right measurements in place to make sure they are pulling in the right direction.  

The new ‘right time’ measure of performance introduced in April this year – something Transport Focus has pushed for  should help. It sends a clear message that on time actually means to-the-minute and not, as was the case, that arriving within five or 10 minutes of the advertised time is okay. 

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