City where only one train in three is on time

Sheffield station.
Sheffield station.
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York has emerged as Britain’s second worst travel blackspot for rail commuters, with nearly two-thirds of services running late or cancelled altogether since the beginning of the year.

Sheffield is also on a list of the country’s 10 worst stations, with delays to more than half the trains passing through. And Leeds fares little better, according to figures released today by the consumer organisation, Which?

Its information is based on data from the performance tracking website, On Time Trains, which records all delays of a minute or more – in contrast to the industry’s official figures, which consider services to be “on time” even if they arrive at their final stop five or sometimes 10 minutes late.

The analysis reveals York Station, which handles 10m passenger journeys a year, to be second only to Manchester’s Oxford Road in the number of delays and cancellations.

Some 65 per cent of services from the city failed to leave on time in the period from January 1 to September 30, with travellers on the former Virgin East Coast line to London and Edinburgh faring worst. Fewer than one in four of Virgin’s trains – just 22 per cent – were on time, a figure bettered only marginally by services on Grand Central, which also serve the capital.

In Sheffield, only 46 per cent of services were on time, and in punctuality in Leeds was only just over half, at 55 per cent.

Which? said even minor delays impacted on the lives of passengers, especially those trying to catch connecting trains or buses.

Alex Hayman, the organisation’s managing director of public markets, said: “Passengers have told us reliability is hugely important to them.

“People have been left deeply frustrated at the unacceptably high levels of delays and cancellations which impact on their everyday lives.”

Which? has called on the Government to enforce a system of automatic compensation and refunds to passengers whose services are delayed or cancelled.

A review of the train system, ordered by the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, and chaired by Keith Williams, former chief executive of British Airways, is expected to report next year.

Mr Hayman said: “The review must not be used as an excuse to delay real action to improve passengers’ experiences on the trains today.”

Robert Nisbet, regional director at the Rail Delivery group, which represents the rail industry, said it was “improving awareness” of compensation schemes, adding: “We will continue to push for big, bold reform as part of the Williams Review.”