A train operator’s most popular morning commuter service arrived late every day during 2014.
The 7.29am Brighton to London Victoria train, operated by Govia subsidary Southern, did not reach the capital within its scheduled time in 240 attempts, according to Network Rail’s performance and punctuality figures for last year.
Trains either side of the 7.29 service to London Victoria, the 7.14 and the 7.44, only arrived punctually on 1% and 2% of occasions respectively.
Nationally, more than a third of trains failed to arrive on time in the 12 months ending 6 December, with 64.6% reaching their destination within 59 seconds of their scheduled arrival.
Only 50.3% of Southern trains made it within the 59-second limit.
One of the best performing operators was the Chiltern train company, which ran 85.1% of its services on time, compared to just 39.1% of services from CrossCountry.
Network Rail’s performance is judged not on the right-time measure but on the public performance measure (PPM), which deems a commuter service is on time if its arrives within five minutes of scheduled time. Long-distance trains are considered on time if they arrive within 10 minutes.
But even on the five-minute PPM measure, just 27% of the 7.29am Brighton to London trains were on time last year.
The PPM figures for all train companies showed that for the 12 months ending December 6 2014, 89.3% of trains were on time.
Top operator was c2c with a punctuality figure of 96.4%, while the worst-performing company was Southern with a figure of 83.4%.
Southern deputy managing director David Scorey said: “I don’t think we’re delivering the level of performance customers expect.”
The rail operator says the poor performance of the 7.29 train and other services across the network is primarily down to high demand and congestion.
“Our network is very busy and congested. An analogy that I’d use is the M25 at its busiest time,” said Scorey. “Our network is a bit like that and what we’re trying to do is run as many trains as we can because the capacity is needed. People want those trains, want seats on the trains, want trains to be as long as they can because there is demand for it.
‘But it does mean that trains are running very, very close together - particularly as they approach London. If there is the most minor of problem or delay on a train, another train can be thrown off its path or slot on the network by a couple of minutes which can sometimes then snowball a little to five or six minutes late.”