Network Rail name Southern worst performing train company for punctuality over past four weeks

First published in News
Last updated
by , Crime reporter

Southern Rail suffered the worst punctuality across the network last month as train companies battled floods and high winds.

The service, covering much of Sussex and south London, managed just 73.1% of trains on time, Network Rail said.

Between December 23 and January 1, 72 fallen trees or other obstructions on the lines and four major infrastructure failures affected Southern Rail’s performance.

On Christmas Eve alone, there were six incidences of flooding and two major landslips.

Southeastern, covering East Sussex and Kent, managed 77.1% of trains on time, compared to 83.7% nationally in the four-week period from December 8, 2013, to January 4, 2014, Network Rail said.

This compared with a figure of 88.3% for the same four-week period in 2012/13.

Delays attributable to Network Rail, including external factors such as fatalities, which made up around 20% of all delays, accounted for 60% of delays nationally during the period.

Network Rail said: "A succession of tumultuous storms tested the rail industry's resilience during a very difficult period.

"During this period, the railway dealt with multiple and sustained extreme weather conditions.

“Storm-force winds brought down almost 400 trees on to the railway while torrential rain caused almost 130 floods and 29 landslips, some blocking major routes.

"Thousands of railway staff responded with dedication and professionalism to repair the damage caused."

A spokeswoman for rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group said: "Although four out of five trains arrived as planned over the last month, we know that severe weather disrupted many passengers' journeys and we apologise to anyone who was affected.

"Throughout the recent bad weather and over Christmas thousands of rail staff were out working to remove hundreds of trees that had fallen onto the railway, repair damage to overhead wires and provide information to passengers to help them get to where they wanted to go.

"During periods of severe weather our main focus is to ensure the safety of passengers and staff, but the industry remains committed to investing in improving performance so that passengers see fewer delays and are kept well informed."

A Southern Rail spokesman said: “December was massively challenging across the entire transport network as a result of repeated and ongoing extreme weather events.

“For Southern, tidal surges, trees and debris on the line, flooding and landslips caused delays and cancellations across the network on a number of days.

“Christmas Eve was our worst performing day which influenced the final figure considerably.

“On that day, as with a number of other days, our principal focus was getting everyone home safely for Christmas, rather than on punctuality.

“Whilst many trains did not reach their destination within five minutes of their booked time (and therefore 'fail' from a [punctuality] perspective) we managed to keep people moving throughout this difficult time.

“Along with the weather, there were other factors that were within our control for which we apologise.

“Together with Network Rail, we are working hard on the reliability of our trains and infrastructure to prevent delays occurring, and that when they do, we work together to minimise the effect on our busy network.”

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