Rail delays are costing Brits millions of hours a year

Rail passengers suffer 54 million hours of delays a year because of problems such as signal and train failures, research shows.

A study by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union found that travellers across the country are being hit by daily delays mounting up to millions of hours every year.

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The union published its report ahead of August's retail price inflation figure, used to calculate next year's rail fare increases. Forecasts predict inflation increasing to around 4%, said the RMT.

Speaking at the union's annual conference in Exeter, general secretary Mick Cash said: "In a few weeks, passengers will be told that their fares are to go up in the region of 4% and the train operators will claim this further rip-off is necessary to fund investment.

"The reality of our fragmented, profit-driven industry is a network starved of the necessary investment leading to a scale-back of essential rail maintenance and renewals resulting in massive delays for passengers.

"These figures tell the real story of the actual impact of these delays, not only on passengers but also the economy as a whole."

World's quirkiest train rides
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World's quirkiest train rides
Germany's Wuppertal Suspension Railway, or Electric Elevated Railway, is a hanging railway which runs along the Wupper Valley in the Ruhr. Built over 100 years ago, the unique monorail straddles the Wupper River and is a serious part of the region’s transport infrastructure, carrying over 20 million passengers a year. It runs along a route of eight miles at a height of 39 feet and at one point crosses a motorway. Ffestiniog Travel offers a Trams & Trains of Northern Germany holiday which takes in the railway.
Running at speeds of around 18 mph, Battambang's Bamboo Train offers a one-of-a-kind rail journey, which takes travellers four miles south-east from O Dambong to O Sra Lav on a norry, a three-metre-long wooden frame with slats made of bamboo. The cheap trains carry up to 15 people and operate daily.
Inlandsbanan is an 850-mile inland railway which travels from Kristinehamn in Central Sweden, north to Gällivare in Swedish Lapland. There's no rush on this slow train as the driver might stop for photo opportunities, make time for you to pick wild strawberries or even enjoy a swim in a lake. The unhurried train stops at little train stations and halts for meal breaks, with orders phoned ahead.

Thailand's unique Maeklong Railway passes right through the Maeklong Railway Market, one of the largest fresh seafood markets in the country. Centred on the railway's track, the market's vendors pull back their produce as the train approaches and immediately put everything back as it was once the train has passed through. The railway is one of the slowest in Thailand and travels through the market three times a day each way.

The Tunnel of Love railway line starts at Klevan and reaches Orzhiv, stretching for four miles, with around three miles covered by a forest. It passes through around two miles of beautiful green arches and is used by trains carrying wood a few times a day. Visitors can walk through the botanical phenomenon and legend says that couples who go through the Tunnel of Love should make a wish which will come true.

Running through the streets of Bad Doberan, the Molli is a narrow-gauge steam-powered railway in Mecklenburg. Created by German aristocrats in the 19th century to serve their favourite Baltic beach resorts, the train picks up passengers outside the shops on cobbled streets and has stationmasters to wind up the level crossings by hand. Ffestiniog Travel’s Narrow Gauge Steam in Eastern Germany tour takes in the railway.

Starting at Villefranche-des-Confient on the eastern side of the Pyrenees, the Little Yellow Train snakes its way through tunnels, gorges and over breathtaking viaducts up to Bolquere, France's highest railway station at 1200 metres. The historic metre gauge electric railway then drops down to Latour-de-Carol at the end of the 63km journey. Opened in 1909, many of the original carriages are still in use along with open-air carriages. Book a ride with Loco2.com.

Built after World War II, the Children's Railway, or Pioneer's Railway, is run by children under the supervision of adult railway workers. From selling tickets to traffic management, the little workers aged between ten and 14 do various types of jobs. Dreamt up by Hungary's communist authorities to instil work ethic in the young, the Children's Railway is still rumbling through the hills around Budapest and is a popular excursion for families.

The Napier-Gisborne Railway passes directly across the Gisborne Airport runway, with trains stopping to seek clearance from the air traffic control tower before they continue down the line. The track splits the middle of the runway and often both the train and aircraft stop until one of them travels on.
Built in 1942, the Burma Railway earned its name as the Death Railway because of the more than 100,000 Allied prisoners of war who died during its construction. Once completed, it stretched 250 miles from Ban Pong in Thailand to Thanbuyuzayat in Burma. Today, the railway is popular among visitors who ride the train as it passes sheer cliffs and along wooden bridges.

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