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Train delay statistics
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.
- 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.
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|
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|
|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|
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|
|West Midlands Trains||6.70%|
|Great Western Railway||5.00%|
|Govia Thameslink Railway||4.20%|
|South Western Railway||3.30%|
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.
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|
|West Midlands Trains||535,162|
|London North Eastern Railway||453,020|
|Great Western Railway||381,130|
|East Midlands Trains||175,939|
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