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Reliability on high frequency rail routes – what passengers think

This report contains the findings of passenger research commissioned by Transport Focus in partnership with Network Rail’s South East route (as it was at the time the project began). The aim was to understand passengers’ expectations in terms of punctuality and reliability and how these might differ on high frequency routes such as the Thameslink core between London Blackfriars and London St Pancras International stations which is designed to handle 24 trains per hour (a train every 2.5 minutes)

The research is 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.

It is also clear that while many treat the Thameslink core much like the London Underground and turn up knowing there are frequent trains to their station, others are travelling to destinations beyond the core and have only a half-hourly frequency to their particular destination. A frequent service is desirable, but frequency is no substitute for punctuality

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