LESS than two-thirds of South Western Railway’s services ran on time, according to the latest figures from the national rail regulator.
The operator, which has been hit by years of strike action by the RMT union in a dispute over the future role of guards, managed only 59.6% of services to be on schedule in the three months to March this year, with 3.7% cancelled.
It was worse than the national figures which over the whole financial year of 2019/20 showed that fewer than 65% of trains were running on time and more than 3% were cancelled.
The performance of train companies is thought to have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with regulator the Office of Road and Rail expecting to see a more noticeable impact in its next release of data, covering April to June.
In January SWR was threatened by the government with the prospect of nationalisation unless it improves its performance.
An SWR spokesperson told the A&T: “We know that customers have not always received the quality of service that they expect and deserve from South Western Railway.
“That is why, in partnership with Network Rail, we are working hard to make improvements, including removing temporary speed restrictions and cracking down on external factors such as trespass.
“These measures are already making a tangible difference to the service offered to our customers. Prior to the Covid outbreak, we experienced a gradual and consistent improvement in the number of trains arriving at their final destination within five minutes of their scheduled arrival time.”
The spokesperson added the first quarter of the year had also brought “significant challenges” due to Storm Ciara, Storm Dennis and the wettest February on record.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: “This data shows once again that our railways are not fit for purpose and are failing both passengers and our members.
“The fact that fewer than 65% of trains run on time shows the need for fundamental reform, and instead of renegotiating contracts in September the government should be resetting our railways and taking franchises back into public ownership with a new deal that puts passengers and key railway workers first.”