Train punctuality and reliability over the autumn hit record levels this year with delays caused by infamous, ‘leaves on the line’, cut by 40%.
Network Rail today released the latest train performance results which saw 89.4% of trains arriving on time during November - the best on record - and combined with October’s record result of 90.2%, made 2009 the best autumn ever.
Robin Gisby, director operations and customer service, said: “Most of the rail network has had a good autumn, with delays cut and train punctuality at record levels. It hasn’t been the easiest autumn with some extreme weather and awful flooding affecting passengers and train operators in some areas. However, the hard work Network Rail and the train operators have made in making our railways more resilient is paying off.”
* Since Network Rail took over control of the nation’s railway infrastructure delays caused by leaf-fall have been cut by over 75% from 549,842 minutes in 2002 to 135,167 this year and a 40% reduction on last year (the autumn period - 1 October to 13 December).
* Train punctuality during autumn (periods eight and nine - 18 October to 12 December) has also seen significant improvement over the period with a 30% increase in punctuality from 68.6% of trains arriving on time during autumn 2002 to 89.8% this autumn (85.7% last year).
* Network Rail and the train operators have invested heavily in technology, equipment and training to reduce the impact the autumn season has on the railways. Network Rail alone has invested around £25m using a 56 strong fleet of specialist trains that over the past two months have cleared hardened, slippery leaf mulch off over 575,000 miles of track
Period nine (15 November to 12 December) marks the end of the autumn period that sees train punctuality traditionally fall by up to five percentage points as trains have to cope with the railways equivalent of black-ice, compacted leaf mulch. Passengers saw services maintain high levels of performance despite this difficult time for train punctuality as Britain’s rail network enjoyed its best ever November.
Severe weather, particularly flooding in the North West, meant November was particularly challenging. Network Rail brought relief to the community of Workington in Cumbria, whose town had been cut in two after road and footbridges were washed away. By building a temporary station, Network Rail and train operators were able to re-connect the town, with a special shuttle service running, saving residents a two-hour road journey.
Robin Gisby, director of operations and customer service, said: “We’re now through the most difficult time of the year for train performance and high levels of punctuality have been maintained for Britain’s millions of daily passengers.”
In all 16 of the 19 operators saw their performance improve compared to the same period last year. Northern Rail saw the biggest improvement in performance this month compared to the same period last year. In all, 11 operators saw significant movement in their performance (over three percentage points):
P9 2009 P9 2008 % point change
Northern Rail 88.9% 79.4% +9.5
London Overground 93.3% 86.1% +7.2
East Midlands Trains 90.8% 84.2% +6.6
First Transpennine Express 89.6% 83.4% +6.2
Southern 87.5% 81.8% +5.7
South West Trains 87.4% 92.1% - 4.7
London Midland 89.6% 84.7% +4.9
First Scotrail 89.5% 85.1% +4.4
National Express East Anglia 90.1% 85.9% +4.2
Arriva Trains Wales 93.9% 90.3% +3.6
Southeastern 86.8% 83.3% +3.5
Services on the South West Trains’ network were also adversely hit by severe weather during November with two landslips at Gillingham and Upwey and the partial collapse of a railway bridge that was damaged by floods near Feltham. These incidents caused this normally high performing service to dip during the month. Network Rail reacted quickly to re-instate the network on each occasion.