Latest research has found that commuter satisfaction with punctuality starts to drop as soon as a train is only one minute late. Business and leisure passengers are a little more tolerant, being prepared to wait between four and six minutes before their satisfaction is affected.
The study also found that passengers’ experience of delays tends to be more than that recorded by the industry as trains may be late at stations along the route, but make up time towards the end of the journey and arrive at the final station according to the timetable.
The findings have prompted Passenger Focus to call on the rail industry to review how it records ‘on time’ trains and to measure punctuality along the route, not just at the final station.
Passenger Focus’s research shows that commuters judge ‘lateness’ after one minute of delay whereas business and leisure passengers start to notice delay after four to six minutes. Also many passengers commuting home in the evening have got off the train long before it reaches its final destination. However, the industry records trains being on time when they arrive at the final destination within five minutes on short journeys and up to 10 minutes on longer distance services.
The independent passenger watchdog thanked National Express East Anglia, Northern Rail and CrossCountry for their help in exploring passengers’ views of punctuality.
Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said: “Punctual trains equal happier passengers. The good news is that the industry’s current measure shows that punctuality is getting better with more trains running on time. However our research shows that punctuality is still one of passengers’ top three priorities for improvement. Perhaps now the point has come to explore further how the industry and passengers defines ‘on time’ trains?”