Rail companies together adopt most transparent train punctuality measure in Europe

Britain’s rail companies are working together to adopt the most transparent measure for train punctuality of any railway in Europe as part of the industry’s drive to improve services for the long-term.

  • Train punctuality to be measured to the minute – the current measure is within 5 or 10 minutes
  • Plan to measure punctuality at every station on a train’s journey rather than just at the destination
  • Drive to encourage even greater focus on running trains on time, benefiting the whole of Britain

Under the new passenger-focussed benchmark rail companies are reporting the proportion of trains arriving to the minute as well as the existing government-set measure where short and long distance trains are considered ‘on time’ if they are five or 10 minutes after schedule respectively.

Train punctuality is also planned to be measured where passengers get on and off at stations on a journey in addition to the current official measure of the final destination only. At the moment, technology means that train punctuality can be measured to the minute for around 80% of station calls. Between now and the new benchmark being adopted, the industry will be working to improve this figure, including looking at how GPS data from trains could be used.

You can view the new measures for the latest four week period and the last year on our website.

These changes compare favourably with the aviation industry where the measure for aeroplane punctuality is within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time. According to analysis by Which? 74% of inbound flights to UK airports arrive within 15 minutes, whereas in the last year 98.4% of trains arrive in the same timeframe.

Rail companies have led plans to adopt the new standard for train punctuality, which were developed with the independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus. Industry leaders say that by adopting a more transparent measure it will encourage an even greater focus on punctuality, which is consistently the highest priority for passengers.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which brings together train operators and Network Rail to improve the railway, said:

“For the passengers, businesses and communities that rely on the railway, every minute counts.

“By adopting the most transparent measure in Europe, we want passengers to know that rail companies are putting an even greater focus on ensuring that trains are meeting the timetable, arriving to the minute and at stations along a journey. We are pushing ourselves to drive better punctuality because it will help to deliver a more reliable railway for the whole of Britain.

“Combined with the £50bn plus railway upgrade plan which will lead to 6,400 extra services a week by 2021, these new measures will help to build a better railway now and for the long term.”

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“Passengers 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 be built up. So, it is good to see the rail industry reporting on time performance at many more stations.”

In the most recent four week period, between 28 May and 24 June, 64.8% of trains arrived to the minute and 91.7% of trains arrived within 5 minutes.

The new measure is displayed in a way that aims to help passengers understand how likely trains are to be early, to arrive during the minute of their timetabled arrival or within three, five, 10 or 15 minutes and after 15, 20 or 30 minutes. The proportion of trains cancelled is also shown.

The new benchmark for punctuality is expected to become one of the official measures of punctuality and reliability for Network Rail, which runs the railway infrastructure, from April 2019 when its next funding period begins. Other measures will include cancellations, average passenger lateness and the proportion of trains arriving within 15 minutes of schedule. The 'on time' measure is expected to be introduced into new train operator franchises in the following years.

The figures are 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 can find out the punctuality record of any individual service at www.mytrainjourney.co.uk, a website launched by the rail industry last year.

Notes to editors:

The Rail Delivery Group brings companies together to improve the railway. Working together, rail companies are delivering more than £50billion investment in Britain’s railway, including over 6,400 extra train services every week and over 5,500 more train carriages by 2021, and a range of changes to improve the experience of passengers from simpler ticket buying to better information. This is all part of our upgrade plan to improve journeys and to make local economies stronger and fairer, now and for the future.

The new punctuality measure builds on improvements by the rail industry in how it compensates passengers for delays. Train companies have made a number of improvements:

  • People can now request refunds in cash rather than rail vouchers.
     
  • Passengers using a smartcard on c2c get automatic compensation for each minute delayed
     
  • Those who have booked on a specific train directly through the website of Virgin Trains West Coast can also be automatically compensated.
     
  • Passengers on the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise are now eligible for a 25 per cent refund for delays over 15 minutes.

Rail punctuality compares favourably to the aviation industry:

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