Virgin Trains' new 'right time' punctuality test allows 59 seconds margin

A train operator has updated the way it publishes punctuality figures so services are only classed as being on time if they reach their destination within 59 seconds of the scheduled arrival time.

Virgin Trains claimed it has introduced the new policy because it wants to give passengers "as much information as possible".

The "right time" standard is tougher than the usual measure of punctuality used by the rail industry, which is based on whether a train arrives within 10 minutes of its scheduled time for long distance services and five minutes for commuter services.

Transport Focus claimed passengers would welcome the decision to provide punctuality information in the new format.

The watchdog's chief executive, Anthony Smith, said: "Publishing information in this way gives a far richer understanding than the traditional percentage of trains that arrived within 10 minutes of the timetable.

"Being honest about the quality of service passengers can expect is a key part of building trust between the railway and its customers."

Some 56% of trains on Virgin's west coast routes arrived on time between March 6-31, while 58% of its east coast services were on time during the same period.

Rail minister Claire Perry described Virgin's announcement as a boost to "ensuring passengers have the best possible information".

Graham Leech, commercial director of Virgin Trains, said: "We're proud of our record of customer service at Virgin Trains and are always looking for new ways to innovate for the benefit of customers."

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and train operators, said it is leading work within the industry to improve how punctuality is measured.

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