Train reliability hits new low with 4% of services cancelled in past year


Train reliability across Britain has fallen to a new low, with the equivalent of one in 25 services cancelled during the past 12 months.


PA news agency analysis of Office of Rail and Road (ORR) data published on Friday showed the cancellations score for the year to February 4 was 4.0%.

This is up from 3.0% 12 months earlier and the highest figure in records dating back to 2014.

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The cancellations score shows the percentage of services that are either fully or part-cancelled, with part-cancellations counted as half a full cancellation.

Staff shortages and sickness, industrial action, severe weather and infrastructure failures have all contributed to disruptions in the past year.

The impact felt by passengers is even worse than the cancellations score indicates as it does not include services removed from timetables as late as 10pm on the previous night. This controversial process, known as p-coding, is what happens ahead of strike days.

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The ORR published separate figures for the first time showing the number of pre-cancellations due to a lack of resources.

For the four weeks to February 4, TransPennine Express (TPE) axed 1,048 services due to a shortage of train crew.

This was far more than any other operator, ahead of Northern (182), Transport for Wales (30) and LNER (17).

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The ORR said TPE’s cancellations score for that period is adjusted from 8.9% to 23.7% when p-coding is taken into account.

The operator’s passengers have suffered from delays and cancellations for several months.

A spokeswoman for TPE said: “The combined impact of prolonged higher-than-usual sickness levels, the significant driver training programme to facilitate the delivery of the Transpennine Route Upgrade and an aligned lack of a driver overtime agreement, has led to the need to remove services from the timetable on a day-by-day basis through pre-planned cancellations.

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“These decisions are not taken lightly, and pre-planned cancellations are only applied when resources are not available to cover advertised services in order to maximise advance notice of service changes for customers.”

Labour has urged the Government to strip the FirstGroup-owned company of its contract and bring services under state control as part of the Operator of Last Resort.

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