Train cancellations in the UK reach highest number on record

One in 26 of all train journeys – 314,000 in total – were disrupted across the UK

Rail passengers at Kings Cross Station in London. EPA
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Hundreds of thousands of train services in the UK have been fully or partly cancelled in the past year, the highest number on record, according to official figures.

In total, one in 26 of all train journeys – 314,000 in total – were disrupted across the UK, data from the Office of Rail and Road show.

Louise Haigh, the shadow transport secretary, said: “This fiasco is causing huge damage to the public, passengers and the economy, and ministers appear completely disinterested.

“After 12 years of Tory neglect, our rail services are in crisis.”

Analysis by The Guardian showed 187,000 trains were fully cancelled and 127,000 partly cancelled between the start of the year and 15 October.

The disruption affected 3.8 per cent of scheduled trains, which is the highest number since records began in 2014-2015.

It is equivalent to 860 trains a day being fully or partly cancelled a day and excludes disruptions due to strikes.

The worst offender was Avanti West Coast, which operates services between London, Manchester and Glasgow. One in every 13, or 7.7 per cent, of its planned services were cancelled.

The majority, 76 per cent of the cancellations, were due to faults with trains or other issues which Avanti is responsible for, as opposed to infrastructure problems which come under Network Rail’s remit.

A representative of Avanti West Coast told The Guardian its cancellations had dropped from almost a quarter at the end of July to 3 per cent in the first week of November.

The company said: “We know we’re not delivering the service our customers rightly expect and we apologise for the enormous frustration and inconvenience caused.

“Resolving this situation requires a robust plan that will allow us to gradually increase services without being reliant on train crew overtime, which fell dramatically in July.”

A Department for Transport representative said it is “unacceptable that poor levels of service are preventing hardworking people from going about their daily lives”.

“We have earmarked more than £16 billion to improve passenger services since the start of the pandemic and are working closely with train operators to ensure long-term solutions are put in place so passengers can travel confidently without disruption,” the representative said.

Avanti advised customers to check their travel ahead of a strike by train managers over the weekend, after members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) walked out in a dispute over rosters.

The RMT said Avanti train managers are angry at having their work-life balance ruined, with significant cuts to rest days and short notice changes to shift patterns.

Passengers have endured a series of strikes by rail operators in recent months, as employees have walked out.

The next action will staged on Saturday November 26, when members of the drivers’ union Aslef will walk out in a long-running dispute over pay.

The strike will affect Avanti West Coast; Chiltern Railways; CrossCountry; East Midlands Railway; Great Western Railway; Greater Anglia; London North Eastern Railway; Northern Trains; Southeastern; Transpennine Express, and West Midlands Trains.

Rugby fans traveling to England v South Africa at Twickenham and to Cardiff for the Autumn International match Wales v Australia will be affected.

Some disruption is also expected on Sunday, November 27, as workers return to their duties.

Updated: November 21, 2022, 1:02 PM