An increasing number of trains are skipping scheduled stops, leaving passengers stranded on platforms and in carriages.
On average trains missed stops at stations in Britain 160 times a day during the last year, according to new figures released by Network Rail.
The practice of ‘station skipping’ is usually done to make up time when trains are running late. Operators argue it is a ‘last resort’ and only done to limit disruption.
An increasing number of trains are skipping scheduled stops, leaving passengers stranded on platforms and in carriages (file pic)
However, it is infuriating for commuters when the train they were supposed to catch speeds through the station as they wait on the platform – and for passengers on board who can no longer get off at their chosen stop.
In total more than 52,500 services out of a planned six million had one or more ‘failure to stop’ (FTS) event in the financial year up to February 23.
The data was released to the BBC under a Freedom of Information Act request and compared the performance of 22 operators across four years.
Nationally there were 10,000 more FTS events in the past financial year compared to 2014-15, when on average 116 trains a day missed a stop.
Govia Thameslink (GTR) – which runs Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern – was the worst performing operator with 17 in every 1,000 planned trains missing one or more stops.
This figure, equivalent to around 50 trains a day, is more than double the national average for train operators.
It also had the line with the most ‘station skipping’ incidents last year – London Bridge to South London Metro via Norbury with 2,301 FTS events.
GTR, which operates some of the most congested routes in the country, insists it only misses scheduled stops at times of significant continuing disruption.
A spokesman for the operator said: ‘Skipping a stop is something we only ever do as a last resort, when a train running late would otherwise prolong the disruption.
‘We operate the country’s most congested rail network and with a train departing every 27 seconds on average, even a minor delay to one train can cause a widespread and long-lasting knock-on effect to many other services and passengers across many routes.’
He added: ‘There is no financial incentive to miss a stop because it counts as a partial cancellation, for which we incur a financial penalty.’ Over the four-year period between 2014 and 2018 an average of 14 in every 1,000 GTR services missed stations. The next worst operator was South Western Railway, which averaged 11, and Southeastern with 10.
The best performing operators were Heathrow Express, Chiltern, and Virgin Trains East Coast, with, on average, less than one in every 1,000 of their trains failing to stop over the same period.
Jacqueline Starr, Managing Director of Customer Experience for the Rail Delivery Group, a partnership of all rail companies and Network Rail, said less than 1 per cent of stops were not made.
She said: ‘This only happens as a last resort to prevent delayed services causing further disruption and while we understand this is frustrating, we ensure there are alternative options for customers to continue their journeys.’ Efforts were being made to improve punctuality, she said.
‘While the number of incidents causing delays and cancellations is going down, each incident is having a bigger impact due to congestion on the network and this is something that we are working hard together to get right.’
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: ‘While any inconvenience caused by stop-skipping to passengers is regrettable, it helps restore the timetable, benefitting many more people across the wider network.’