Network Rail figures show London Overground performed best and CrossCountry worst on arrival times measured to the minute
Fewer than seven in 10 trains ran to schedule over the past year, according to figures published on Thursday, with one operator – CrossCountry – bringing in fewer than half its trains on time.
Punctuality figures used by the rail industry claim that 91.5% of trains run on time, but the “right-time performance” figures released by Network Rail paint a more accurate picture. These show arrival times measured to the minute, rather than allowing trains up to 10 minutes’ slack on long-distance routes or five minutes on commuter services.
London Overground performed best of all operators, with 88% of trains arriving to the minute. The overall average was 69.2%.
Virgin, Southern and CrossCountry were the three worst operators. On the industry standard scale, Virgin Trains was the least punctual operator with one in seven trains running more than 10 minutes late.
In November the overall “right-time” figure dropped to 57.1% as bad weather contributed to widespread disruption.
The rail minister, Norman Baker, said: “With record levels of investment from government funding and passenger fares, the public has the right to know about the services they are getting. But given the congestion on the network, the figures are generally pretty good.”
The Office of Rail Regulation welcomed the figures as a step forward for transparency in the industry and pointed to steady improvements over the past decade.
Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said punctuality problems were being exacerbated by a rail system in which private train operating companies were compensated by the publicly owned track operator, Network Rail, when services ran late – while passing a fraction of that money on to delayed passengers. He said rail firms were “being rewarded for failure at present”.
Corin Taylor, of the Institute of Directors, said: “Business relies on prompt trains to get staff to work and to meetings on time. It is frustrating for those working hard to get the economy growing to be let down by a key connecting service.”