MSE News

Train cancellations hit 900 a day as timetable changes bite

About 4.3% of trains were cancelled or part-cancelled in late spring and early summer, new stats obtained by MoneySavingExpert.com reveal – the highest such figure in at least six years. 

A total of 54,586 trains were cancelled between 1 April and 21 July this year, and 45,405 were part-cancelled, data released by Network Rail under the Freedom of Information Act shows – meaning just under 900 trains a day were hit by cancellations.

The figures, which coincide with a major rail timetable shake-up, represent a sharp rise on previous years. Between April 2017 and March 2018 an average of 704 trains a day were cancelled or part-cancelled, and the figures have risen steadily over the past five years. 

Our findings come as the Press Association revealed new analysis showing punctuality on Britain's railways has hit a 12-year low, with one in seven trains missing industry punctuality standards in the 12 months to August 2018. 

For how to claim if your train's late or cancelled, see our Train Delays guide.

How many trains have been cancelled?

The Network Rail data shows the number of 'total cancellations' – when trains did not run at all or ran less than 50% of their planned mileage – and part-cancellations – where trains ran more than 50% of their planned mileage but missed at least one of their planned station stops, or were more than 120 minutes late.

Train cancellations and part-cancellations

Year

Trains planned Part-cancellations Total cancellations
2012/13 7,222,264 87,704 (1.21%) 74,834 (1.04%)
2013/14 7,269,620 94,545 (1.30%) 92,755 (1.28%)
2014/15 7,285,907 99,155 (1.36%) 85,347 (1.17%)
2015/16 7,339,438 105,925 (1.44%) 95,043 (1.29%)
2016/17 7,302,585 121,212 (1.66%) 131,109 (1.80%)
2017/18 7,343,265 134,660 (1.83%) 122,488 (1.67%)
2018/19 2,323,398 45,405 (1.95%) 54,586 (2.35%)

Network Rail data obtained by MSE for financial years, which run from 1 April to 31 March. Data for 2018/19 only goes up until 21 July. Proportion of total trains in brackets.

These figures come as the Press Association released separate analysis of data published by the regulator, the Office of Rail and Road, which showed that 14% of trains missed the industry's public performance measure (PPM) of punctuality in the year to August 2018. 

The PPM measures whether a train arrives at its final destination within five minutes of the scheduled time, or 10 minutes for a long-distance service. The Press Association said its analysis showed the last time the annual rolling average was worse was in February 2006, when it stood at 14.2%.

I've been affected by cancelled trains – what can I do?

If your train's been delayed or cancelled, always check to see if you can claim a refund.

With some train companies, you can claim if you arrive at your destination at least 15 minutes after you were supposed to – regardless of reason – while with others it's 30 minutes.

For full step-by-step info on how to claim, see our Train Delays guide.

If you had a weekly, monthly or annual season ticket for some Great Northern, Thameslink, Northern or TransPennine Express services and were hit by May's botched timetable overhaul, you may be able to claim back up to a month's travel costs, in addition to the usual rules. 

Whether you're eligible depends on the route you took, when you travelled and the kind of ticket you had. The amount you'll get will be worked out as a proportion of your fare, and in some cases this could be £100s. See the timetable chaos section of our Train Delays guide for full info.

'Stats which help quantify the scale of the chaos'

Steve Nowottny, news and features editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "All summer we've been hearing about passengers' travel misery, with huge disruption caused by the timetable shake-ups at Thameslink, Northern, Great Northern and elsewhere. Now these stats help quantify the scale of the chaos.

"If your train is cancelled or you're hit by delays, always check if you can claim – and don't forget it you've been hit regularly you may be entitled to additional compensation too."

What do train firms say?

Robert Nisbet, regional director at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train firms, said in response to our cancellation figures: "We know that customers experienced unacceptable levels of disruption due to cancellations after the May timetable was introduced for which we are sincerely sorry.

"The May timetable aimed to deliver a once-in-a-generation step change in the quality of rail services, introducing thousands of new carriages and increasing the number of services running, and we are learning the lessons from what went wrong in May to ensure it doesn't happen again."

Additional reporting by the Press Association.