If you believe the train companies, they are veritable experts at arriving on time. Their records show that nine out of ten trains arrive when they say they will. However, new official figures out today show just how far from reality this figure is.
In fact one in three of all trains are delayed - and on some lines half of all trains are late. So why do these figures differ so drastically?
The official rail company data, known as the Public Performance Measure, claims that 90.8% of all trains in the UK run on time.
However, rail companies don't count a long-distance train as being late unless it's a full 10 minutes behind time. This means that they can routinely get in 9 minutes and 59 seconds behind schedule and count the service as running on time. For shorter distances the cut-off is five minutes behind schedule.
The figures released today by Network Rail, known as the right-time figures, count the times that the trains are more than 59 seconds late - and the results are shocking.
Right-timeThe worst performer was the serpentine CrossCountry route - which was on time with just 45.2% of services. It means that well over half of all its trains ran late. Virgin Trains, meanwhile, managed to run just 47.4% of trains on time.
Mike Hewitson, Passenger Focus head of policy, said in a statement:"Passengers tell us that punctual trains are what they want most from the railway, so they will be disappointed with the decline in overall performance. Our most recent passenger survey also showed a decline in satisfaction with punctuality; furthermore, only 42 per cent of passengers felt they had got value for money on their ticket with commuters even less so."
"It is essential that this decline is reversed so that passengers can get back to depending on the railway."
The rail companies aren't always at fault. Network Rail says that nationally around 60% of all train delays are due to the track operator rather than the train firm. Even with infrastructure creaking, not every train company turned in a dismal performance. Chiltern managed to be on time 87.5% of the time - making it the most punctual of all rail firms.
The frustrating thing is that at the moment Network Rail says the right-time information isn't 100% accurate, and that the industry is still assessed according to the PPM data (which makes the train companies look better). It claims that this is how performance is measured in most European countries.
But can this be the best way to measure performance? What do you think? let us know in the comments.
Worst fiveCrossCountry 45.2% were on time
Virgin Trains 47.5%
East Coast 57.9%
First ScotRail 58.1%
Best fiveChiltern 87.5%
London Overground 86.2%
Arriva Trains Wales 85.8%
c2c Rail 84.9%
East Midlands Trains 73.8%