Performance figures show Tories’ total failure on railways, says Labour

New train performance figures demonstrate “the Tories’ total failure on the railways”, Labour has claimed.

Office of Rail and Road (ORR) statistics published on Thursday show the equivalent of 3.8% of services on Britain’s railways were cancelled in the year to the end of March.

That is the joint worst performance for that period – matching the figure from the previous 12 months – in records dating back to 2014.

The proportion of services arriving at their final destination within five or 10 minutes of the timetable – depending on the type of operator – was 85.6% in the year to the end of March.

This was down 0.7 percentage points on the previous 12 months, and is the lowest figure for that period since 2004/05.

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “These appalling figures demonstrate that passengers are still paying the price for the Tories’ total failure on the railways.

“Delays and cancellations are at record levels – while waste, inefficiency and fragmentation on our railways continue to cost taxpayers dearly.

“Britain deserves better. That’s why Labour will deliver the biggest overhaul to our railways in a generation, bringing franchises into public ownership as contracts expire and creating Great British Railways.

“Publicly-owned Great British Railways will be single-mindedly focused on delivering for passengers and taxpayers – and will be held to account on delivering reliable, efficient and quality services.”

The Conservative Party was approached for a comment.

A spokesperson for Rail Partners, a group representing private sector rail organisations, said: “The latest Office of Rail and Road data shows performance across both Network Rail and train operators is not where it should be.

“This underlines the urgent need for rail reform to create a new public body to oversee the railway, but also to restore commercial freedoms and incentives to private operators to improve performance and attract customers back to rail.

“Increasing passenger numbers will grow revenues, reduce taxpayer support and help Britain to reach net zero.”

A report published by the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee on Monday claimed the Department for Transport has “achieved very little” on rail reforms since it established the Williams Review in September 2018 to consider major changes.

It added that “no-one is putting the needs of passengers and taxpayers first”.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said:  “Despite a year of industrial action by the Labour-linked rail unions combined with a record number of named storms causing disruption to infrastructure, train operator performance remained broadly stable.

“The best performing operators including those franchised out by TfL are operated by the private sector, so Labour’s incoherent and ideological rail nationalisation plan will do nothing to improve performance for passengers.

“In fact, moving to a “resource-led” led timetable would put the unions in charge and could see services slashed.

“The Conservatives are the only party with a credible plan to reform the railways, revitalising the public-private partnership responsible for the doubling of passenger numbers prior to the pandemic.”