Train punctuality: is it really that important?

User avatar
horizon
Posts: 9441
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Cornwall

Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby horizon » 18 Jul 2017, 10:52am

This is from this morning's Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/20 ... unctuality

It's always good news if the train companies have their feet held to the fire so to speak but it strikes me that the rail watchdogs have an appallingly limited imagination when it comes to establishing priorities for improvement.

So rather than their trying to eradicate two minute delays, might you as a rail user prefer to see:

More bike spaces on trains
A dedicated bike space with seats and luggage racks
An alcohol-free carriage
Simpler and cheaper pricing and ticketing
The demolition of the new Reading station
The cancellation of HS2
Staffed stations
Later train running in the evenings
More passenger involvement in decision making
De-privatisation

You get the idea ...
I have two doctors, my left leg and my right leg. (G. M. Trevelyan)
PS I always wondered why the YHA HQ was called Trevelyan House. :)

User avatar
meic
Posts: 19355
Joined: 1 Feb 2007, 9:37pm
Location: Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen)

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby meic » 18 Jul 2017, 11:07am

You forgot having a train that goes from somewhere near to where you are to somewhere near where you want to go.
Not that that would actually entice me on to one but it gives me an excellent excuse for not even bothering to look any further at them.
Yma o Hyd

User avatar
TrevA
Posts: 2101
Joined: 1 Jun 2007, 9:12pm
Location: Nottingham

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby TrevA » 18 Jul 2017, 12:07pm

Having in the past commuted by train, it becomes a real pain when your train is consistently a few minutes late, especially on the journey in to work. All those lost minutes add up and your employer can become a little tired of you consistently turning up at work 5-10 minutes late.

CliveyT
Posts: 269
Joined: 13 Jun 2012, 2:55pm
Location: Cambridge

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby CliveyT » 18 Jul 2017, 1:14pm

because I've spent most of my life with my nearest station being effectively a branchline then punctuality is important. If the first train is late then I miss my connection and so I don't have reserved seat/bike reservation usw for the rest of the journey.

I suspect the real reason of course is it's easy to measure timekeeping. you can do it without leaving your seat, anything else might require some effort

Mattyfez
Posts: 350
Joined: 22 Dec 2014, 7:24pm

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby Mattyfez » 18 Jul 2017, 4:53pm

What Trevor said.

Luckily my boss also commutes by train so is understanding of the problem, but a lot of work places wouldn't tolerate it, if I was less fortunate I'd be commuting for 4 hours a day catching earlier trains.

brynpoeth
Posts: 10734
Joined: 30 Nov 2013, 11:26am

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby brynpoeth » 18 Jul 2017, 5:11pm

If the trains are frequent enough (2-3 times an hour more) it does not matter so much if they are late, the next one comes soon enough. It is a problem if one changes several times and uses services that run less frequently. Long-distance through trains are good, does the Penzance to Aberdeen still run?

The LSWR did it right many years ago with the ACE, one train with through coaches from Waterloo to a dozen resorts, Bude was the furthest I think. Train travel made more sense back then, before my time. Thousands going from Waterloo and Paddington on holiday, now *train travel* conjures up images of thousands of poor people commuting into London every day

Mind, no-one is forced to live 100 miles from their place of work :wink:
Entertainer, juvenile, curmudgeon
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on a Gillott
We love safety cameras, we love life

Mattyfez
Posts: 350
Joined: 22 Dec 2014, 7:24pm

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby Mattyfez » 18 Jul 2017, 5:22pm

brynpoeth wrote:
Mind, no-one is forced to live 100 miles from their place of work :wink:


I live about 25 miles from work, theres 1 train an hour that takes about 40 mins. It's late at least 2 or 3 times a week ranging from a few mins to sometimes 20 mins.

I dont' currently have a car but if I did I couldn't afford the parking newar my work anyway, about £8 - £12 per day, and I'd still have to site in traffic for 40 odd mins each way.

User avatar
The utility cyclist
Posts: 2363
Joined: 22 Aug 2016, 12:28pm
Location: The first garden city

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby The utility cyclist » 18 Jul 2017, 7:11pm

Drive half the journey and cycle the rest is what some people do, not always doable but when trains are costly/don't run on time frequently it must be a consideration for a fair few that cycle and own a car.
The only times I have a problem with train punctuality is for trips visiting the folks, 7 minutes between to catch the connecting train, missed it a couple of times over the years but not an issue as there's another within 30-40 mins.
I only ever commuted by train for a few journeys, it was either bike or car, never had the chance to combine.

The suggestion of other priorities should come as standard on top of ensuring timetables are kept too. Given the public funding/subsidies to these companies it shouldn't be too much too ask!

PRL
Posts: 602
Joined: 21 Jan 2007, 9:14pm
Location: Richmond upon Thames

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby PRL » 18 Jul 2017, 8:03pm

When you have a connection to make. My most irritating experience was when taking a Brompton on a late running train. (Greater Anglia ?) We unfolded before the train stopped in order to make the connection ( much quicker to wheel than carry) only to get told off by the guard. First seem much more relaxed about that.

User avatar
ChrisOntLancs
Posts: 527
Joined: 20 Oct 2016, 9:47pm

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby ChrisOntLancs » 18 Jul 2017, 9:48pm

another one for the connections, which is sometimes ok because the next train/bus you have to catch is also late. if they were consistently late it wouldn't be so much of a problem :wink:

i jest... right... but actually.... i've had this problem so many times! why don't they just change the time? if it's usually a couple of minutes late, lets just assume that thats how long it takes the train to get here. "usually late" would be "occasionally early" it sounds like a cop out, but.... right.. well it takes a few minutes to hard boil an egg. if anybody promises one in thirty seconds, they're lying to you, and themselves.

drossall
Posts: 4538
Joined: 5 Jan 2007, 10:01pm
Location: North Hertfordshire

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby drossall » 18 Jul 2017, 10:12pm

I commute into London daily. There is no other means of transport (even a bike) that can shift me tens of miles and guarantee to be there within a couple of minutes of a target time. So, two or three minutes late I don't really notice.

Whatever means I use, I need to allow a few spare minutes to guarantee being on time for work, meetings or whatever. I agree there's a wider picture, though I don't think I've seen the new Reading station. I'd certainly want to balance punctuality (within a few minutes of target) against ticket prices, for example.

User avatar
mjr
Posts: 13566
Joined: 20 Jun 2011, 7:06pm
Location: Norfolk or Somerset, mostly
Contact:

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby mjr » 18 Jul 2017, 10:44pm

ChrisOntLancs wrote:i jest... right... but actually.... i've had this problem so many times! why don't they just change the time? if it's usually a couple of minutes late, lets just assume that thats how long it takes the train to get here. "usually late" would be "occasionally early" it sounds like a cop out, but.... right.. well it takes a few minutes to hard boil an egg. if anybody promises one in thirty seconds, they're lying to you, and themselves.

They don't change their times because people lose their minds and flood the media with complaints any time services get slower. Newspapers start running articles about how trains are now slower than the steam trains that fewer people caught and had a published timetable that was marketing fiction and mischief like that.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.

MikeF
Posts: 3706
Joined: 11 Nov 2012, 9:24am
Location: On the borders of the four South East Counties

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby MikeF » 18 Jul 2017, 11:07pm

CliveyT wrote:because I've spent most of my life with my nearest station being effectively a branchline then punctuality is important. If the first train is late then I miss my connection and so I don't have reserved seat/bike reservation usw for the rest of the journey.

But if all trains had enough room to carry bikes as the OP suggests, there wouldn't be any need to book or reserve spaces for bikes, and time keeping wouldn't be so important. There also wouldn't be a need for a "cycle policy".

Time keeping of trains is now an obsession for performance measurement. If only comfort were included as a measure.
"It takes a genius to spot the obvious" - my old physics master

PDQ Mobile
Posts: 2806
Joined: 2 Aug 2015, 4:40pm

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby PDQ Mobile » 18 Jul 2017, 11:23pm

Reasonable punctuality is very handy if one has a connection to make or a plane to catch!

After all, if you are going to all the trouble to run a train then why not run it on time (or within a few minutes of time, at least)?

AndyK
Posts: 789
Joined: 17 Aug 2007, 2:08pm

Re: Train punctuality: is it really that important?

Postby AndyK » 18 Jul 2017, 11:47pm

PDQ Mobile wrote:Reasonable punctuality is very handy if one has a connection to make or a plane to catch!

After all, if you are going to all the trouble to run a train then why not run it on time (or within a few minutes of time, at least)?


Perhaps because the effect is to make the train operating companies focus on meeting an arbitrary target rather than providing customer service, leading to...

  • Trains that shut their doors as much as two minutes before the advertised departure time, just to ensure that there's no risk of leaving late;

  • Trains that don't wait for a late connecting train - especially if that connecting train belongs to another operator. (Just because they're late, why should we be late? It doesn't matter if the train leaves half empty so long as it leaves on time!)