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Rail cancellations in 2018 the highest on record

Rail cancellations in 2018 the highest on record

Published by Carol Musgrave at 1:05pm 20th May 2019. (Updated at 1:10pm 20th May 2019)

It is claimed train passengers lost almost four-million hours to delayed journeys last year - including in Surrey and Hampshire.

Consumer group Which? claims around 80 services were significantly affected each day across the country.

South Western Railway came in at seven out of 14 operators for the most delays in 2018 - at 0.5%.

A train is classed as significantly late if it is delayed by at least 29 minutes.

The survey found an average of 660 trains a day were cancelled altogether, making it the highest figure for cancellations since records began in 2011.

More than 4% of South Western Railway services were cancelled in 2018 - ranking it at six for the most cancellations out of the 14 operators surveyed.

The research was published on the first working day of the new summer timetable today - which aims to add 1,000 extra services per week to the railways.

Transport campaigners are urging the rail industry to learn the lessons of last May and have a "robust contingency plan", after timetable changes caused misery for millions of passengers.

It led to nearly 800 trains being cancelled every day, costing Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) £5m in fines.

Out of the 13 rail franchises analysed by Which?, GTR and Transpennine Express had the highest cancellation rates as a proportion of their total services, at 7% and 10% respectively.

Figures for London North East Railway and its predecessor Virgin Trains East Coast show they had the highest rate of significantly delayed trains last year at 5%.

Another piece of analysis found that cancellations by Northern resulted in the company's trains not calling at more than 250,000 scheduled stops in the past year.

Which? said the poor performance, as well as its research showing that 36% of passengers do not claim delay compensation, shows the need for payouts to be made automatically.

Several train companies, including South Western Railway, as well as C2C, Northern, and Virgin Trains - already offer automatic compensation to customers with certain tickets.

Head of campaigns for Which? Neena Bahti said:

"Passengers have faced a torrid time on the trains since the beginning of last year where the rail industry has fundamentally failed on punctuality and reliability.

"People then face a messy and complex compensation system which puts them off claiming when things go wrong.

"A vital way the government's rail review and industry can start to restore faith is by introducing automatic compensation for delays and cancellations so that passengers don't have to fight to get the money they are owed."

Robert Nisbet, regional director of the Rail Delivery Group, said: 

"We know that services on some routes weren't good enough last year and rail companies are working together to improve punctuality and tackle delays across the country.

"Train companies want to make it simple and easy for customers to claim compensation if they've experienced a delay.

"Half of the franchises managed by the Department for Transport pay compensation after 15 minutes and some operators have introduced automatic refunds, helping claims to increase by 80% over the last two years."

A Department for Transport spokesman said the rail review is "focused on reforms to put passengers at the heart of the railway and will consider all submissions closely".

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