UK passenger journeys have doubled over the last 20 years and the high growth trend is expected to continue. With critical parts of the network running close to capacity during peak times, small delays can easily propagate, and be difficult to recover. Service reliability has worsened, resulting in 16.7m delay minutes in 2018/19.
Delays and cancellations break one of the fundamental promises that the railway makes to customers: to take them to their destination on time. It is no surprise that the National Rail Passenger Survey run by Transport Focus reports year over year that the biggest impact on passenger overall satisfaction is 'punctuality / reliability'. In the 2018 survey, punctuality remains the biggest single influence on satisfaction, and that the way delays are handled by TOCs has a strong influence on dissatisfaction. Keeping freight trains running so that the goods they transport arrive on time is also an important to UK businesses and the wider economy.
The Enabling Better Performance Research Challenge (PERFORM) – which sets out to achieve performance improvements to run more trains on time today, while improving the rail performance of tomorrow - is developing knowledge, tools and guidance to help industry drive performance improvements.