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Train Punctuality

Volume 548: debated on Tuesday 10 July 2012

In line with the Government’s transparency agenda, and the commitments made in the Command Paper “Reforming our Railways: Putting the Customer First”, additional information will from today be made available by the Office of Rail Regulation and Network Rail about the punctuality of train services.

In addition to the existing public performance measure (PPM), which indicates the proportion of train services arriving at their destination within 5 or 10 minutes, for short and long distance services respectively, information will now be published on trains which are “right time” at their final destination—that is, which arrive early or within a minute of the due time.

PPM is and will remain the Government’s and industry’s key measure of rail punctuality and reliability:

it recognises the different passenger expectations and operating practicalities between short and long distance services;

it incentivises the industry to ensure that the vast majority of services—significantly over 90%—get to their destination at or close to time; and

it gives the industry essential flexibility to manage minor operational disruption, which would not be possible with an absolute on time measure.

But the coalition Government recognise that passengers want more information about their services, including whether they are actually on time, and that is why Ministers have asked the industry to develop plans to provide this. We welcome the positive response which it has now made.

As a first step, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) is today publishing annual statistics on right time performance at industry sector level—that is; long distance, London and south-east, and regional (including Scotland), going back to 2001-02. Network Rail (NR) will from now on be updating these figures for each industry period, alongside the main PPM measure.

These figures show that, for the network as a whole in 2011-12, 69.8% of trains arrived “right time”, compared with 91.6% meeting the PPM target. This is a high level of performance by historical standards and represents a significant improvement over the last five years, compared with 62.7% right time and 88.1% PPM in 2006-07. Overall, the average delay incurred by passengers is now around two minutes.

Results of the spring 2012 national passenger survey just published by Passenger Focus showed very high levels of satisfaction with rail travel in this country (Great Britain). Nationally the percentage of passengers satisfied with their journey overall was 83%, and for punctuality and reliability it stood at 81%.

Right time information is generated by existing industry signalling systems, but these were not designed for precise monitoring of time-keeping, and there is some uncertainty over the accuracy of the data at individual operator level, so ORR is commissioning an urgent independent study into this.

In the light of that study, it is intended that right time information will be published at operator level from October 2012. In addition, Network Rail announced on 28 June that it was making available real time information on the reliability of individual trains, making it possible to analyse train performance at a far more granular level.

This will put our railway in the forefront of the transparency agenda, providing more information on punctuality and reliability for passengers than any other European country.

A good deal of information is also published on other key transport modes in this country, and the coalition Government are keen to see further progress on transparency over time.