Thameslink passengers are still suffering an increase in delayed and cancelled trains, despite the third timetable change in two months, according to Which? research.
The research, using statistics from rail performance-tracking site On Time Trains, looked at the levels of delays faced by Thameslink and Great Northern passengers since a new timetable began on 20 May 2018. Both of these franchises are run by operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).
Figures reveal that the rate of Thameslink delays of ten minutes or more were three times higher in the week following the latest timetable introduced on 15th July as compared to the delays in the six weeks before the first changes in May. The rate of delays was 4.2% in July versus 1.4% in May.
While Thameslink has made some improvement to services since the height of the timetable chaos, the research shows that passengers are still experiencing unacceptable levels of delayed and cancelled services, which continue to heap misery on their personal and professional lives.
The consumer champion has heard hundreds of stories of commuter ‘train pain’.
Thameslink passenger Karen Lloyd, 44, said: “The experience with Thameslink has been shambolic. I’m already faced with fewer trains during peak morning commute and the catastrophic implementation has led to constant cancellations, train destinations being changed after boarding the train, significant delays getting to work and home, missing school pick up, bedtimes.”
In contrast, Great Northern – the other GTR franchise to introduce a third new timetable – seems to be getting a grip of the chaos, with a similar number of trains delayed following the third timetable change (1.9%) than as before the changes (2.2%).
This week, Which? submitted evidence as part of the Office of Road and Rail inquiry into the impact of the May timetable changes on passengers.
The consumer champion is calling on government to fix this chaos now, make sure this never happens again and as a bare minimum introduce automatic compensation for all affected passengers who are entitled to compensation through industry arrangements such as Delay Repay.
While Thameslink and Great Northern automatically create a claim for smartcard holders when a delay of at least 15 minutes is identified, these passengers still need to confirm that they want to claim via their online account. Other passengers have to apply for compensation themselves.
The current GTR additional compensation package only applies to season ticket holders – with passengers still expected to manually make a claim rather than receiving the funds directly by being automatically compensated.
Alex Hayman, Which? Managing Director of Public Markets, said:
“Passengers, who are still bearing the brunt of train company failures and often suffering personally and professionally, are then expected to jump through hoops to claim for the delay compensation they are owed.
“The Government must demonstrate that they’re serious about making the rail system work for passengers, not just train companies, by immediately introducing automatic compensation as a bare minimum.”
Notes to editors
To report your delays, packed trains and cancelled journeys to Which? Visit: which.co.uk/trainpain
This research has been compiled by rail performance-tracking site On Time Trains which collates National Rail and Network Rail data to provide passenger tools such as delay repay lookup and station rankings. Delays and cancellations were assessed based on the reported arrival time at each timetabled station stop, as well as departure from the origin station. Figures for the first week of the third new timetable are provisional due to National Rail data feed outages, but are nonetheless representative. A tree caught in the overhead wires near St Albans was a significant cause of Thameslink delays during this week, which are attributed to Network Rail rather than the operator.
Time periods for the figures above:
– Before the timetable chaos is classed as the six week period from 08 April – 19 May 2018
– After the third timetable is classed as the one week period 15 July – 21 July 2018
The ‘Rail delays and compensation – what passengers want’ report (by Transport Focus in partnership with the DfT and the ORR) in November 2016 found only 35% of eligible passengers claimed compensation for their most recent delay.
Under Delay Repay, the industry scheme that GTR is signed up to, compensation is available for delays or cancellations, with the amount passengers are entitled to varying according to the length of delay. Which? is calling for all passengers who have paid for their ticket through an electronic method of payment to be refunded automatically.