New statistics from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show that although the performance of Network Rail is beginning to improve, there is still inconsistency in the delivery of punctual and reliable journeys.
During the quarter from 1 July to 30 September, 69.2% of passenger trains were on time, which is an increase of 1.5% on the same quarter last year. Set against a background of industrial action, there is still a high level of cancellations at 3.5% of passenger services, although that is slightly better (down 0.%) compared with the same quarter last year.
Separate analysis ORR shows that during the last year Network Rail's, following implementation of regional performance improvement plans at the request of ORR overall contribution to the day-to-day running of passenger and freight services has started to improve, including overall improvement between June and October 2023.
In a letter to Network Rail, ORR's Chief Executive John Larkinson welcomed the initial recovery but pointed out much more still needs to be done to ensure consistent delivery of train services for passengers and freight across the country.
Network Rail's focus must continue to be on the performance of its infrastructure, and learn lessons from events including such as the recent incident at Plessey viaduct. Extreme weather will continue to be a challenge, but the company must try to safely reduce its effect on services.
Train operators also have a role to play in improving performance, as over half of all cancelled trains were train operator related. To improve processes that contribute to punctuality and reliability, the regulator wants Network Rail to lead the whole industry. This includes making better use of innovative projects that Network Rail and its industry partners have developed using public funding to improve timetabling.
Network Rail's contribution to train cancellations and punctuality at a regional level are varied, and while most areas have shown improvement, the regulator still has concerns about performance in the Wales & Western region where it has recently started an investigation.”
Feras Alshaker, Director, Planning and Performance, said: “As the independent regulator, the data we are publishing today bears out the reality that passengers in some areas are still experiencing trains not consistently arriving on time, and high levels of cancellations. However, we are beginning to see signs of improvement in Network Rail's contribution.
“While these improvements are promising, they aren't consistent, and as our analysis shows, the company can do much more to ensure that Britain's railway provides a reliable and punctual service for all its users.
“We recognise that ensuring trains run as planned and to time requires cross-industry collaboration. Network Rail can play an essential part in bringing the rail industry together to build on recent performance improvements and we will work with government to strengthen these relationships.”