The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has announced that from April, train operators in the UK will be subject to stricter punctuality standards in an effort to improve performance.

Operators and Network Rail will measure train punctuality to the minute at all stops as opposed to the current standard of considering a service to be on time if it arrives at its final destination within five minutes of schedule for shorter journeys, or ten minutes for long-distance trains.

RDG says the move is part of an industry-wide programme to tackle delays and improve passenger satisfaction.

It comes after figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) showed train delays across the country were at a 12-year high in the 12 months to August 2018, while passenger satisfaction is at its lowest since 2008, according to watchdog group Transport Focus.

Passengers suffered through severe disruption following the introduction of a new timetable in May 2018, which has since resulted in the ORR ordering Network Rail to improve its performance and fining Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) – which operates the lines worst affected by the chaos – £5 million for failing to keep passengers notified of delays and cancellations.

RDG says train operators and Network Rail are already using the data collected by measuring trains at each station to pinpoint issues that cause delays and have begun using this information to improve services.

Under the new system, rail companies will publish a spread of information about punctuality – including whether the service is early, within a minute of the timetabled arrival, or within three, five, ten or 15 minutes, as well as later than 15, 20 or 30 minutes behind. The proportion of cancelled trains will also be included in these reports.

Rail users will be able to access this information via the My Train Journey website, which allows them to check how punctual their service has been in the past.

RDG says the new measures are part of a wider industry programme led by the National Task Force that also includes teams to prevent suicides on the railways and stop people trespassing on tracks. Operators and Network Rail will also coordinate better responses to seasonal weather disruption such as leaf fall, snow and high temperatures.

It was announced earlier this month that the industry will introduce more than 1,000 extra services across the network this May. RDG claims a timetabling task force has been put in place to ensure the roll-out of these new trains goes as smoothly as possible.

Chief executive Paul Plummer said: “Every second matters to us and our customers, which is why rail companies have together developed and are now using these to-the-minute measures for train punctuality at every station as part of our plan to improve the railway today.

“Record investment to upgrade the railway, including the roll-out of thousands of new carriages, will continue to improve journeys over the coming years and in the short term, we’re using a more transparent measure of punctuality to help us cut delays and reduce disruption.”

Janet Cooke, CEO of London Travelwatch, commented: “This is a welcome change which will help focus the industry on passenger needs and foster a culture of ‘start on time, stay on time, arrive on time’.”

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