"Fewer than 70% of trains on time"

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Squaddie

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Fewer than 70% of trains run on time, "real" punctuality figures published by Network Rail (NR) suggest.

The statistics are based on services that arrive either early or within 59 seconds of the scheduled time.

The new figures show 69.8% of trains were on time during 2011/12, with only 59.7% of long-distance rail services being within the new limit.

Earlier surveys deemed short-distance trains punctual within five minutes, long-distance ones within 10 minutes.
BBC News

This is a welcome first step to reporting the true performance of Britain's rail companies, where generous definitions of "on time" and excessive timetable slack paint a picture much rosier than the true one.
 
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Schnellzug

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Within 59 seconds of time? How pedantic. no one's really fussed about 2 or 3 minutes here or there, are they?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
As long as they report the true performance of Buses and Aviation as well, the latter has even more generous allowances.

Crikey, yes, "on time" can be taken to mean anything from landing to arriving at the gate, and if they push back from the gate "on time", they can still wiat for half an hour before they actually take off. Railways seem to be held to so much more stringent standards than everything else.
 

hluraven

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I always think that when I have the misfortune of travelling RyanAir, they play that stupid music and automated announcement about how we have landed on time, I look at my watch and we are already 15 minutes late and still on the runway!
 

Metroland

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Planes are considered with 15 minutes they are 'on time'
Long distance trains are 10 minutes.
Other trains and buses are within 5 minutes.
UK car drivers waste 14,500 years of time sitting in traffic on the UK's main roads alone last year, with the M25 alone costing drivers 2,868 years.

Rail generally out performs the other modes, to my mind unless all modes are brought into the same system it skews the figures to the unsuspecting public who don't have time to check the devil in the detail.
 

Pugwash

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And this does not even take into account the maddening levels of padding that TOC's are allowed to put into timetables.

My train to London is 5 mins slower than under BR.
 

hluraven

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And this does not even take into account the maddening levels of padding that TOC's are allowed to put into timetables.

My train to London is 5 mins slower than under BR.

Most of the time this isn't padding but either pathing restrictions as many more trains run, or a more realistic sectional running time/dwell time to reflect current passenger loadings.
 

Oswyntail

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And this does not even take into account the maddening levels of padding that TOC's are allowed to put into timetables.

My train to London is 5 mins slower than under BR.
I would guess that 99% of passengers would rather have a punctual, predictable railway than running a theoretical 5 minutes faster but risking erratic punctuality.
 

WestCoast

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Within 59 seconds of time? How pedantic. no one's really fussed about 2 or 3 minutes here or there, are they?

If you have a short connection time of 4/5/6/7 minutes, then yes you might be at least slightly concerned about it. There are times I can remember where 1 or 2 minutes would have made all the difference for an onward connection. It's hardly 'pedantic', but realistically it is to be expected by travellers.

I do think a common European framework for measuring rail punctuality might be in order, at the moment I believe it's done according to different standards and recording mechanisms.

It's harder to measure the exact punctuality of buses. I don't really see where air travel fits in here, the operational challenges are very different to rail and a few minutes delay tends to be of little consequence when minimum connection times are generally 40+ minutes.

Perhaps sometimes it's easy to miss the point about punctuality. I don't think most people are all that bothered if they are 5 minutes late at their final destination (they might not even notice it). However, if they encounter a 'short' delay enroute, which then makes them miss a bus/train/plane connection, arrival at the final destination could be delayed by a considerable and noteworthy length of time.
 
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calc7

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I always think that when I have the misfortune of travelling RyanAir, they play that stupid music and automated announcement about how we have landed on time, I look at my watch and we are already 15 minutes late and still on the runway!

Once and never again for me. Everybody looks round, rolls their eyes and groans. <D
 

Schnellzug

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I would guess that 99% of passengers would rather have a punctual, predictable railway than running a theoretical 5 minutes faster but risking erratic punctuality.

I would very much agree. Perhaps rather than spending billions to make the journey from London (it's always from London) to wherever three minutes quicker, they might more usefully spend it on making the signalling more reliable, since it's that, after all, that's usually the cause of delays.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
If you have a short connection time of 4/5/6/7 minutes, then yes you might be at least slightly concerned about it. There are times I can remember where 1 or 2 minutes would have made all the difference for an onward connection. It's hardly 'pedantic', but realistically it is to be expected by travellers. .

I think really, 10 minutes should be the minimum recommended connection time for any station; all this '7 minutes for this station, 10 miniutes for that statiion, 15 minutes for that station' is just confusing.
 

Skymonster

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Within 59 seconds of time? How pedantic. no one's really fussed about 2 or 3 minutes here or there, are they?

One minute late - no. Five minutes late - yes, definitely bothered, especially if I've got a connection. So the old within ten minutes on long-distance services was too broad an allowance.

Crikey, yes, "on time" can be taken to mean anything from landing to arriving at the gate, and if they push back from the gate "on time", they can still wiat for half an hour before they actually take off.

No, airline on-time performance should be measured from "off-blocks" (i.e. doors closed, wheels turning) to "on-blocks" (at the gate, stopped). Whilst the CAA might report within 15 minutes, I used to manage punctuality stats for a major UK airline and we measured and reported true on-time (i.e. zero minutes delay), within 5, within 15, within 30, within 60 and over 60. The CAA also publishes route specific punctuality - it'd be useful to see NR reporting punctuality by route and allow passengers to drill down to that level of detail if they wanted, rather than just lumping all punctuality for a TOC together.


I don't really see where air travel fits in here, the operational challenges are very different to rail and a few minutes delay tends to be of little consequence when minimum connection times are generally 40+ minutes.

And the other thing is people expect to be able to be able to do other things within a minute or two of getting off a train, even if it's getting on another train or starting the walk to the office. With a flight, there's a general expectation that there's going to be some variable time after getting off the aeroplane clearing immigration, collecting bags, etc. So people tend to allow, and accept, a bit more leeway when travelling by air. None the less, as I said above, the airline I used to work for took on time (i.e. zero minutes delay) very seriously.


And this does not even take into account the maddening levels of padding that TOC's are allowed to put into timetables.

If "stretching" schedules (which as well as in rail is very common in air now compared to 20 years ago) results in a predictable arrival time and more consistant punctuality, I'm all for it - I'd far rather have reliable predictability in the time of arrival of my train than a promise of a few minutes faster journey which couldn't realistically be delivered on many occasions.


I think really, 10 minutes should be the minimum recommended connection time for any station; all this '7 minutes for this station, 10 miniutes for that statiion, 15 minutes for that station' is just confusing.

The other thing that would be really useful in Railway stats is the AVERAGE delay for a given service/route - again, the airline I used to work for worked out an average delay, and when schedule-planning took place it considered connection times on the basis of the average delay. A published / recommended / minimum connecting, be it rail or air, should really be based on the AVERAGE delay plus the time it's likely to take a passenger to get from one service to another and not on some arbitary number.

Andy
 
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Failed Unit

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I think really, 10 minutes should be the minimum recommended connection time for any station; all this '7 minutes for this station, 10 miniutes for that statiion, 15 minutes for that station' is just confusing.

But you still get the same problem. Edinburgh Waverley is a 10 minute connection. If you are doing 11 - 14 for example this is plenty. If you are dumped on platforms 8 or 9 you will be lucky to get onto the footbridge from an east coast train in 5 minutes so 1 minute late will matter.

Irrespective the figure should be celabrated not condemned!
 

flymo

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Crikey, yes, "on time" can be taken to mean anything from landing to arriving at the gate, and if they push back from the gate "on time", they can still wiat for half an hour before they actually take off. Railways seem to be held to so much more stringent standards than everything else.

Taxi times are taken into account when calculating aircraft punctuality and some such figures are published on the CAA website and in the published monthly reports
 

Pugwash

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Most of the time this isn't padding but either pathing restrictions as many more trains run, or a more realistic sectional running time/dwell time to reflect current passenger loadings.

Ha ha ha, do you believe what you have written ?

Watch how much time trains can catch up on the GEML if they are delayed.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
If "stretching" schedules (which as well as in rail is very common in air now compared to 20 years ago) results in a predictable arrival time and more consistant punctuality, I'm all for it - I'd far rather have reliable predictability in the time of arrival of my train than a promise of a few minutes faster journey which couldn't realistically be delivered on many occasions.

This may be the case for the occasional user, but for commuters this costs many hours a year stuck on slower trains.
 

hluraven

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Ha ha ha, do you believe what you have written ?

Watch how much time trains can catch up on the GEML if they are delayed.

Yes, as a former operational planner I know what I have written to be true nearly all the time.

If the timetable had a large amount of padding, then capacity would be considerably reduced, and less trains could run. A timetable with a large amount of extra time not required under operational planning rules would be rejected.

There are times when extra time is added for pathing, for allowances for engineering works or other similar reasons, this is not padding though and if there is no engineering works or the train that requires pathing around is out of sequence then a train may arrive early, but it is still not padding.

On longer distance services (I pathed mostly commuter trains so it is different) there may be more generous allowances for engineering - and a big difference that may be confusing you is the different time shown in the WTT and the public timetable, but there simply isn't large amounts of padding in the timetable, that is a myth.
 

Pugwash

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Yes, as a former operational planner I know what I have written to be true nearly all the time.

If the timetable had a large amount of padding, then capacity would be considerably reduced, and less trains could run. A timetable with a large amount of extra time not required under operational planning rules would be rejected.

There are times when extra time is added for pathing, for allowances for engineering works or other similar reasons, this is not padding though and if there is no engineering works or the train that requires pathing around is out of sequence then a train may arrive early, but it is still not padding.

On longer distance services (I pathed mostly commuter trains so it is different) there may be more generous allowances for engineering - and a big difference that may be confusing you is the different time shown in the WTT and the public timetable, but there simply isn't large amounts of padding in the timetable, that is a myth.

If that is the case then I am very surprised, particularly on the GEML stations at the end of the line seem to have very slow timetabled journeys to allow trains to 'catch up' if required.
 

Skymonster

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There are times when extra time is added for pathing, for allowances for engineering works or other similar reasons, this is not padding though and if there is no engineering works or the train that requires pathing around is out of sequence then a train may arrive early, but it is still not padding.

On longer distance services (I pathed mostly commuter trains so it is different) there may be more generous allowances for engineering - and a big difference that may be confusing you is the different time shown in the WTT and the public timetable, but there simply isn't large amounts of padding in the timetable, that is a myth.

Padding, allowances for engineering, differences between working timetable and public timetable. Doesn't matter. I accept that the railway is more congested and that allowances might need to be made for engineering, and I can live with the slightly longer travel times as long as the advertised / public time is realistic and achievable most of the time - I'd far rather have that than be consistently late.

As an example: the 07:50 Nottingham - St Pancras often gets a signal check just north of St Pancras a good five minutes prior the advertised arrival time of 9:29 and then has to wait - there's a down train leaves St Pancras at 09:25 which it almost always has to wait for. So the published 09:29 arrival time may well be due to limited infrastructure (platforms) at St. Pancras. But I'd rather have a realistic expectation that the train will arrive on time at the published 09:29 than experience it being consistently late on an achievable but unrealistic 09:24.

Andy
 

The Planner

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If that is the case then I am very surprised, particularly on the GEML stations at the end of the line seem to have very slow timetabled journeys to allow trains to 'catch up' if required.

You have basically just described what hluraven has described, Id be willing to bet there is a public differential at the terminal station, the WTT is most probably different.
 

Schnellzug

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One minute late - no. Five minutes late - yes, definitely bothered, especially if I've got a connection. So the old within ten minutes on long-distance services was too broad an allowance.


But you still get the same problem. Edinburgh Waverley is a 10 minute connection. If you are doing 11 - 14 for example this is plenty. If you are dumped on platforms 8 or 9 you will be lucky to get onto the footbridge from an east coast train in 5 minutes so 1 minute late will matter.

Irrespective the figure should be celabrated not condemned!

Indeed, for some places the size & layout of the station should be take into account to allow longer; I just think that 10 miniutes should be the minimum tinme advised.
 

tbtc

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Most of the time this isn't padding but either pathing restrictions as many more trains run, or a more realistic sectional running time/dwell time to reflect current passenger loadings.

Agreed

I would guess that 99% of passengers would rather have a punctual, predictable railway than running a theoretical 5 minutes faster but risking erratic punctuality.

Agreed

Padding, allowances for engineering, differences between working timetable and public timetable. Doesn't matter. I accept that the railway is more congested and that allowances might need to be made for engineering, and I can live with the slightly longer travel times as long as the advertised / public time is realistic and achievable most of the time - I'd far rather have that than be consistently late.

As an example: the 07:50 Nottingham - St Pancras often gets a signal check just north of St Pancras a good five minutes prior the advertised arrival time of 9:29 and then has to wait - there's a down train leaves St Pancras at 09:25 which it almost always has to wait for. So the published 09:29 arrival time may well be due to limited infrastructure (platforms) at St. Pancras. But I'd rather have a realistic expectation that the train will arrive on time at the published 09:29 than experience it being consistently late on an achievable but unrealistic 09:24.

Andy

Agreed
 

Ferret

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BBC News

This is a welcome first step to reporting the true performance of Britain's rail companies, where generous definitions of "on time" and excessive timetable slack paint a picture much rosier than the true one.

In other news, 99.9% of long distance car journeys arrive more than 10 minutes after their 'scheduled' time of arrival, owing to things like kids crossing the road, rain causing traffic build ups, bad drivers, roadworks....etc etc! Perhaps we should get a sense of perspective regarding the 'true performance of Britain's rail companies'.
 

Schnellzug

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In other news, 99.9% of long distance car journeys arrive more than 10 minutes after their 'scheduled' time of arrival, owing to things like kids crossing the road, rain causing traffic build ups, bad drivers, roadworks....etc etc! Perhaps we should get a sense of perspective regarding the 'true performance of Britain's rail companies'.

Exactly my thoughts. Sat Nav may say that to get from A to B will take 53 minutes, but you'd round it off to an hour, wouldn't you. And if you allowed just 7 minutes to make a connection (i.e. to get to somewhere you needed to be), then well, you'd be pretty foolish, wouldn't you.
 

Robinson

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If they stated bus punctuality, i think that would be more shocking, like waiting 50 minutes for a bus that is advertised as 'every 15 minutes'

Or the Unilink bus (U1 for anyone who knows the Southampton routes) I used to catch regularly when I was in 1st year at uni (last year) with a pass included in halls fees. Every day in the evening peak, virtually without exception, every bus on the route would be delayed on the approach to Wessex Lane due to a narrow stretch of road just on the other side of the junction until the road started to quieten down again. Standard practice used to be to jump off at the bus stop before the traffic lights and walk the rest of the way...

The railway has certainly been on time more often in my experience than teh buses!
 

WestCoast

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And if you allowed just 7 minutes to make a connection (i.e. to get to somewhere you needed to be), then well, you'd be pretty foolish, wouldn't you.

I disagree when the minimum connection time for many stations is 7 minutes. It would perhaps be extremely unwise not to build in further contingency time (i.e. for the total journey) for something important, but 7 minutes is deemed to be an appropriate connection time at many stations (as defined by NR themselves).

If a railway takes a slack attitude towards exact timing (not saying that it is the case here), then people will be reluctant to make connections and the demand for direct services to every shack in the country grows. That needs to be avoided, for the benefit of all.
 
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I seem to remember about 8/9 years ago, the SRA set a target of 90% of trains been on time (as in within 10 mins of arrival time) by 2010, i wonder if this had anything to do with the extra padding posters on here talk of.
 

The Planner

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I disagree when the minimum connection time for many stations is 7 minutes. It would perhaps be extremely unwise not to build in further contingency time (i.e. for the total journey) for something important, but 7 minutes is deemed to be an appropriate connection time at many stations (as defined by NR themselves).

NR do not define connection times, they are agreed by the TOCs and ATOC.
 

WestCoast

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NR do not define connection times, they are agreed by the TOCs and ATOC.

'Define' was perhaps the wrong choice of wording, what I really meant was that NR display this information to the public, who may make decisions based upon that. Although, any outlet offering station information and/or a journey planner does this as well.
 

Schnellzug

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I disagree when the minimum connection time for many stations is 7 minutes. It would perhaps be extremely unwise not to build in further contingency time (i.e. for the total journey) for something important, but 7 minutes is deemed to be an appropriate connection time at many stations (as defined by NR themselves)..

7 minutes seems to be cutting it a bit fine to me. Why not make 10 minutes as a standard minimum? For cross-paltform interchange or into a branch train in the bay, it might be reasonable, but allowing for late running (up to, say, 5 minutes late) and then to cross over a bridge, I certainly wouldn't bank on a 7 minute connection.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
If a railway takes a slack attitude towards exact timing (not saying that it is the case here), then people will be reluctant to make connections and the demand for direct services to every shack in the country grows. That needs to be avoided, for the benefit of all.

Direct services need to be avoided? :|
I, again, would argue just the opposite. It may be simpler and easier for the Train operators to have every train running in exactly the same pattern all day every day, but once again it seems to reduce user-friendliness from the passenger's point of view.
 
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