UK rail reliability figures driven off track by Southern rail chaos

Rebecca Smith
Southern rail industrial action has been a drag for commuters and GTR
Southern rail industrial action has been a drag for commuters and GTR (Source: Getty)

​A new report from the Office of Rail and Road looking into the punctuality of UK rail service has found performance was “generally poor”, marred by ongoing troubles with Southern rail.

Southern owner Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) proved the biggest trouble to performance ratings – it carries a fifth of passengers across England and Wales and operates 18 per cent of services.

Rail companies are compared using the Public Performance Measure (PPM) which combines punctuality and reliability to come up with a percentage to assess performance. The higher the better.

Read more: Tube drivers now striking on the same day as next Southern walkout

Looking at April up until mid-October, GTR had a PPM of 76 per cent, which was eight percentage points below its year-end performance strategy target. The next worst was Virgin Trains East Coast on 82.7 per cent.

The report said with Southern,“GTR has been impacted by industrial action by the RMT union, primarily over changes to the role of guards”.

Disputes have been ongoing for months with industrial action and timetable changes causing significant travel disruption for passengers. Earlier this week, City A.M. revealed GTR was estimating a £38bn total for problems revolving around strike action for the year.

The ORR report said “traincrew” was the single largest cause of PPM failures for GTR services – making the service harder to operate even when there aren’t any other problems on the network.

Read more: Southern rail hit by £38m bill from industrial action so far this year

C2c was the best ranked operator on 95.3 per cent, though even that was down 1.4 percentage points compared to the end of 2015-16.

The average PPM across England and Wales was 87.7 per cent, short of the 92.5 per cent target it needs to be on track to hit in 2019.

For the full year Network Rail does though, expect to underspend its net budget by £3bn and has achieved seven out of its eight planned project completion milestones in the six-month period.

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