Investigation reveals rail services are improving between Royston and London

PUBLISHED: 17:02 03 December 2015


Our train services are officially improving, a Crow investigation can reveal.

The Crow spoke to two commuters who regularly travel from Royston to London for work to get their response to the data:

Martin Walls, an electrician who works for London Underground said: “I think services may have improved slightly, but not in any noteworthy way.

“The trains are quite often late, packed full, uncomfortable and infrequent.

“I suppose my main qualm is with the price – I pay £144 a week to get to work and I wouldn’t mind, but as the service is so rubbish, I don’t know where my money is going.”

Samantha Brook, who is an assistant team manager at a corporate travel company in the capital, said: “My issue is mainly with the standard of the trains, they are filthy.

“They are hot in the summer months and cold in the winter.

“At Kings Cross station the staff do not offer help when there are delays or problems – they don’t suggest a useful alternative route.

“Their time keeping has improved a bit, which is good, but that’s the only improvement I have noticed.

“They have a long way to go.

“I hate that there are first class cabins with two people in them, while the rest of the train is bursting full of people.

“Commuting trains should be classless to enable as many people a seat as possible.”

Martin agreed, saying:

“Yes, I understand the need for first class on long commutes but the distance between Cambridge to London is not long enough to warrant having it – it just wastes the space for everyone else.”

The region’s train services have performed better since the new franchise began last year, but they still offer a worse service than the rest of the country, official figures show.

An in-depth analysis of performance statistics for three of the local Great Northern Line services towards London King’s Cross has shown better performance measures since Govia Thameslink took over the franchise from First Capital Connect in September 2014.

The seven-year Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise included a commitment from Govia to provide nearly 1,400 new electric carriages and invest millions in station improvements across the overall network.

And it would appear the improvements are working, with local services, which call at stations including Baldock and Royston, subject to fewer delays and cancellations, according to figures released through the Freedom of Information Act.

The greatest improvements have been enjoyed on the Great Northern Outer fast service to Cambridge.

Its public performance measure – the proportion of commuting trains arriving at the terminating station within five minutes of their scheduled time – averaged 83.6 per cent from September 2014 to June 2015. This was an improvement of four percentage points on the same period of the previous year under the old franchise.

The best performing branch of the Great Northern line was the slow service to Cambridge, calling at Ashwell and Morden, which had a PPM of 86.9 per cent also up slightly on the previous franchise.

Despite the improvements, all three fall short of the national average PPM, which was 89.6 per cent for the first quarter of 2014/15.

Train performances across the UK as a whole had declined from an average PPM score of more than 92 per cent in 2012 to 88 per cent in 2014/15. The first months of 2015/16, however, showed a slight improvement in national performance.

PPM is used as the national standard for comparing train services. However Network Rail also publishes other statistics, which show further improvements on the region’s lines.

The proportion of trains cancelled or significantly delayed (CaSL) – those that arrive more than 30 minutes late at their terminating station, or fail to stop at a scheduled station – are slightly better than the national average of 2.9 per cent.

However, those arriving at the ‘right time’ – under a minute later than their scheduled time – were all worse than the national average of 65.7 per cent.

It may surprise those who regularly bemoan the train operator when delayed, that most disruptions to services are attributed to Network Rail.

The state-owned company, which is responsible for maintaining and improving the nation’s train network, accounts for 59 per cent of all delays across the UK, which includes issues such as overrunning engineering works, signalling faults as well as vandalism and weather conditions.

In comparison 28 per cent of delays nationally were caused by the operator itself and a further 13 per cent caused by other operators.

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