Trains across the UK missed scheduled stops on average 160 times a day, according to data obtained by the BBC.
The Network Rail data given to the BBC through a Freedom of Information request shows more than 52,500 services out of a scheduled 6 million had one or more “failure to stop” events in the financial year to February 2018.
At about 50 missed stops per day, Govia Thameslink (GTR) – which runs Southern, Great Northern and Thameslink – was the worst offender. It accounted for 16,000 of the total.
A GTR spokesman told the BBC that skipping stops is a measure it takes to avoid prolonged disruption. “We operate the country’s most congested rail network and with a train departing every 27 seconds on average, even a minor delay to one train can cause a widespread and long-lasting knock-on effect to many other services and passengers across many routes.”
GTR is embroiled in an ongoing dispute with the RMT union over the role of guards on trains, causing the franchise to suffer major disruption during strike action.
The data shows South Western, Southeastern, TfL Rail and Arriva Trains Wales join GTR to make up the five operators with the highest rates of failure to stop.
The best performing franchises include Heathrow Express, Chiltern and Virgin Trains East Coast.
Failure to stop rates have risen dramatically since the 2014-15 financial year, with 10,000 more reported in 2017-18.
However, figures from the Office of Road and Rail show Network Rail is responsible for six in ten delays, owing to infrastructure works, signalling problems or fatalities on the line.
Network Rail announced in February that its next five-year plan would focus on improving the country’s rail infrastructure to make the network “more reliable”.