Working in partnership with London TravelWatch

Transport User Voice – Just how late is your train?

31 July 2017

Delayed rail passengers will soon get minute-by-minute scrutiny of late-running trains with the arrival of a new punctuality measure.

Train times will now be recorded and publicised to the minute replacing the existing Public Performance Measure. Commuter services are currently ‘late’ if they are more than five minutes behind schedule, or ten on longer journeys. The new punctuality standard from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) will also measure a train’s punctuality at every station, instead of on arrival at the final destination.

Over the past year we have worked alongside the RDG to develop the new standard for train punctuality. We hope that adopting a more transparent measure will encourage an even greater focus on more trains running on time. This is consistently passengers’ highest priority.

Transport Focus has long called for a new right-time measure and is a considerable win for passengers. Passengers tell us they want a reliable, on-time train service. How that performance is measured and reported should, our research shows, closely mirror passengers’ real life experience otherwise trust will not build up. This a positive first step for passengers which in the long term will hopefully result in operators making more trains run on time.

Back in 2015, our report Train punctuality: the passenger perspective revealed the gulf between what passengers and rail industry consider ‘late’. The survey of more than 10,000 people highlighted how differences between what passengers think about ‘on-time’ trains and what the rail industry currently delivers is contributing to lower passenger satisfaction.

Passengers expect ‘on time’ to mean a train arriving within one minute of the scheduled time, not the current industry standard of five minutes (or 10 minutes for long-distance trains). Passengers told us they had low awareness of the current performance measures and a lack of trust in how the rail industry measured train punctuality. For every minute of lateness, that is, after scheduled arrival time, overall passenger satisfaction declined by one and a half percentage points. Among commuters the decline in overall satisfaction was steeper at three percentage points per minute of lateness.

The new figures will be published at a national level on the website of the Rail Delivery Group. Information for individual train operators is expected to be published on their websites by April 2018 and passengers will be able to find out the punctuality record of any individual service at www.mytrainjourney.co.uk.

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