Northern timetable chaos sends rail performance south


The punctuality and reliability of Britain’s rail network worsened in the last financial year, largely because of the impact of the timetable debacle and the poor performance of operator Northern.

According to new statistics published by operator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), 86.3% of trains were on time in 2018/19 under the Public Performance Measure (PPM); this was 1.5 percentage points worse than 2017/18.


The proportion of trains cancelled or significantly late (CaSL) in 2018-19 was 4.3%. This was 0.5 percentage points higher than 2017/18.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘This latest news underscores that passengers are not getting the train service they are paying for. Passengers deserve a more reliable service that is better value for money. The Rail Review must bring about fundamental change to repair trust among the travelling public.’

The ORR noted that the May 2018 timetable change caused disruption on the network during the first quarter of the financial year, particularly for Northern services as well as Govia Thameslink Railway.

Officials said that the worsening in the punctuality of Northern accounted for 55% of the 1.5 percentage point decrease in the national PPM moving annual average (MAA) in 2018/19, while Northern accounted for 41% of the 0.5 percentage point increase in the National CaSL MAA.

The ORR said that punctuality in quarter 4 of 2018/19 was 2.4 percentage points better than it was in the equivalent quarter of 2017/18, while national reliability (CaSL) in quarter 4 was was 1.1 percentage points better than quarter 4 of 2017/18.

Officials said that some of this improvement can be attributed to the milder winter experienced in much of Great Britain in the quarter, ie between January and March 2019.

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