Train delay statistics 2020

1.74 billion journeys were made on the rails during 2019/2020.

Looking for an eco-friendly way to travel around the UK? One where you don’t need to worry about priority boarding or the size of your suitcase? Our beloved trains might not always be on time, but they sure are efficient when they work. Last year, 7.6 million trains were scheduled to run. 257,000 (3.4%) of all planned trains were cancelled and 927,200 (12.2%) trains were delayed by five minutes or more. The most delays were by the operator Caledonian Sleeper. 7.3% of all overnight sleeper trains arrived later than 30 minutes or more.

The first three quarters of 2019/2020 looked great, with a record high of £2.7 billion in revenue per quarter. As COVID-19 hit, passenger revenue went down by £0.5 billion in the last quarter, which is expected to affect the revenue of the coming year.

Quick overview

  • A record number of passengers used trains during 2019/2020, with 1.74 billion journeys total.
  • During 2019/2020, the railway services made £10.3 billion in revenue, £22 million less than the year before.
  • In 2019/2020, 6.3 million claims were made for delay compensation. 84.7% of these were paid out.

66.7 billion kilometers

is how far we collectively travelled by train in 2019/2020. That’s a 6% increase from 2014/2015.

Passenger journeys

During 2019/2020, rail passengers made no fewer than 1.74 billion across the UK, which is a 0.79% decrease from the previous year and a 5% increase from 2014/2015. Between Q3 and Q4 of 2019/2020, the number of passenger journeys dropped by 14.85%, due to COVID-19 and lockdown.

Year and quarter Number of passenger journeys
19/20 Q4 393,945,349
19/20 Q3 462,627,896
19/20 Q2 449,159,789
19/20 Q1 439,122,394
18/19 Q4 444,904,656
18/19 Q3 450,602,617
18/19 Q2 434,422,513
18/19 Q1 428,901,514
17/18 Q4 427,850,438
17/18 Q3 437,858,622
17/18 Q2 426,251,758
17/18 Q1 415,954,743
16/17 Q4 436,744,457
16/17 Q3 442,028,097
16/17 Q2 425,439,913
16/17 Q1 427,281,894
15/16 Q4 438,677,280
15/16 Q3 442,218,492
15/16 Q2 422,718,104
15/16 Q1 414,608,513
14/15 Q4 423,257,675
14/15 Q3 430,391,324
14/15 Q2 408,207,402
14/15 Q1 393,967,600

How much Brits spend on train fares

Ticket prices in the UK are a hot topic, mainly because of the dreaded price hikes that affect passengers every year. Only 13% of Brits think that train fares are “good” or “very good”, while 71% think they are “bad” or “fairly bad”.

Half of our train fares are regulated by the government and the other half are set by commercial rates, which means that train operators can set prices as they see fit. Every July, these prices are reviewed and often increased due to inflation, plus 1% extra. Overall, this usually adds an extra 3-4% onto ticket prices annually.

On average, Brits below the age of 30 spend the most money travelling on trains, with a total weekly spend of £8.90. Those aged 30-49 spend £5.70 per week and those aged 75 and over pay the least, at just 60p per week. All together, the population spends an average of £4.30 per week on trains.

Age Average weekly spend
£8.9
30-45 years old £5.7
50-64 years old £4.4
65-74 years old £1.4
>75 years old £0.6

UK train operator revenue

Unsurprisingly, train operators have seen their profits increase steadily over the last four years, with average revenue growth sitting at 3.9% per year – until this year. The total revenue for the 2019/2020 financial year was over £10.3 billion, which is £22 million less than the year before. This means that the industry saw an 18.52% drop from one quarter to the next, all due to people not travelling as much during lockdown.

Comparing 2019/2020 and 2014/2015, annual revenue has still grown by 16%, even though it was expected to be higher.

Year and quarter Revenue
19/20 Q4 £2.20 billion
19/20 Q3 £2.70 billion
19/20 Q2 £2.70 billion
19/20 Q1 £2.70 billion
18/19 Q4 £2.61 billion
18/19 Q3 £2.62 billion
18/19 Q2 £2.54 billion
18/19 Q1 £2.55 billion
17/18 Q4 £2.45 billion
17/18 Q3 £2.48 billion
17/18 Q2 £2.41 billion
17/18 Q1 £2.40 billion
16/17 Q4 £2.40 billion
16/17 Q3 £2.40 billion
16/17 Q2 £2.36 billion
16/17 Q1 £2.36 billion
15/16 Q4 £2.31 billion
15/16 Q3 £2.37 billion
15/16 Q2 £2.33 billion
15/16 Q1 £2.28 billion
14/15 Q4 £2.25 billion
14/15 Q3 £2.29 billion
14/15 Q2 £2.20 billion
14/15 Q1 £2.13 billion

Delays and cancellations

During both 2017/2018 and 2018/2019, 7.6 million trains were timetabled to run. In 2017/2018, 295,000 (3.9%) of these trains were cancelled and 1.05 million (13.8%) were delayed by five minutes or more.

In 2018/2019, we saw a slight improvement. 257,000 (3.4%) of all planned trains were cancelled, 38,000 fewer than in 2017/2018. 927,200 (12.2%) trains were delayed by five minutes or more, which is 122,800 fewer delays than the year before.

Financial year and quarter Number of trains planned Cancelled trains Delayed trains
19/20 Q1 1,967,459 2.40% 31%
19/20 Q2 2,000,444 3.40% 35.0%
19/20 Q3 1,933,744 4.10% 40.8%
19/20 Q4 1,892,564 3.80% 34.4%

Operator with the most delays in the UK

If you’re going for a night train, make sure you schedule in some extra time. The operator with the most delays in the UK is Caledonian Sleeper, which had 14.70% of its trains late by at least 3 minutes during the first quarter of 2020/2021. The second-worst operator was CrossCountry, which had 8.10% of its trains delayed by at least 3 minutes during Q1 2020/2021.

The best timekeeper of all services measured was Merseyrail, with a mere 2% of all its trains arriving at least 3 minutes late, closely followed by TfL Rail, which only had 2.5% of all its trains delayed.

Service Percentage of trains delayed by at least 3 minutes
Caledonian Sleeper 14.70%
CrossCountry 8.10%
TransPennine Express 7.90%
West Midlands Trains 6.70%
Chiltern Railways 5.50%
Northern 5.50%
Great Western Railway 5.00%
Govia Thameslink Railway 4.20%
ScotRail 3.90%
Greater Anglia 3.50%
South Western Railway 3.30%
Southeastern 3.30%
c2c 2.70%
London Overground 2.70%
TfL Rail 2.50%
Merseyrail 2.00%

Complaints

There are currently about 30.6 complaints per 100,000 train journeys, which is the highest it’s been since 2012/2013. So what do we complain about? Unsurprisingly, 24% of all complaints were about the punctuality of the trains. The second-most common complaint was about the facilities onboard (10% of all complaints).

94.7% of all complaints were closed within 20 days.

Refunds

Whether you receive a refund or not varies depending on who the operator is, but most will give you a 50% refund if your train is 30-60 minutes late. You will get a full refund if your train is delayed by more than 60 minutes.

6.3 million delay compensation claims were made by train operators in 2019/2020, which is 17.6% more than the year before. The 84.2% claims that were compensated made up a mere 0.06% of the total revenue made by the train services.

The highest number of claims in 2019/2020 was made by Govia Thameslink passengers, with over 1.13 million claims recorded. Of these, 84.7% were refunded. South Western Railway came in second place with 755,515 claims, 83.4% of which were repaid.

Merseyrail recorded the least amount of claims overall, with only 988 claims in 2019/2020, down from 1,362 in 2018/2019. Merseyrail approved 98% of the claims, leaving on 20 claims unpaid.

Service Number of refund claims
Govia Thameslink Railway 1,131,500
South Western Railway 755,515
Greater Anglia 593,721
Southeastern 559,883
West Midlands Trains 535,162
London North Eastern Railway 453,020
Great Western Railway 381,130
Northern 364,689
TransPennine Express 247,507
East Midlands Trains 175,939
CrossCountry 166,553
ScotRail 117,004
TfW Rail 73,421
Chiltern Railways 24,561
c2c 20,097
London Overground 19,704
Hull Trains 17,493
Grand Central 11,732
Heathrow Express 10,365
Caledonian Sleeper 10,166
TfL Rail 9,713
Merseyrail 988

Sources

ORR
ONS
GOV
TfL
Fullfact

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK Communications Manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

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