At least the trains are running on time (Or are they?)

by Stephen Tall on May 27, 2009

The news isn’t all doom ‘n’ gloom, y’know – even in the Telegraph:

Trains are more punctual than ever, Network Rail has claimed, with more than nine out of 10 arriving on time over the past year. The figures are the best since the industry started collating punctuality statistics in 1992. Last month the performance was even better than the yearly average, with 93.5 per cent of services classed as running on time. The industry’s definition of punctuality is based on commuter services operating within five minutes of the timetable and for longer distance trains, 10 minutes.

However, Lib Dem transport terrier Norman Baker isn’t jumping for joy, railing (sorry) against Network Rail’s definition of ‘on time’:

The industry considers that anything up to five minutes late, and in some cases even 10 minutes, is still on time. Many passengers will have a different view. It’s not good enough to simply record that half a million trains were within five minutes of their schedule. On time should mean on time.”

Norman has a point, especially for long-distance journeys which may involve connections – and where a train running 10 minutes’ late can make all the difference. That said, and assuming Network Rail’s definitions have remained constant over time, it can’t be denied that the figures do signal (sorry, again) genuine sevice improvement.