Monday, December 12, 2011

Track Bashing the Chiltern Mainline - Again

Three months ago, Chiltern Railways launched their new 'Mainline' service and timetable, to much fanfare.

It would be fair to say that implementation was not glitch free. That is an understatement.

Since implementation of the new timetable, the Public Performance Measure ("PPM") has been below the franchise requirement of 93.75% and monthly season ticket holders have recently been receiving 5% discounts upon renewal. That is not good.

To give absolute clarity, I detail at the foot of this note the PPM measures as reported by The Office of Rail Regulation, for each of the individual 2012 industry reporting periods to date. The Moving Annual Average PPM moved up from its low of 92.6% to 92.7%, for the most recent period.

Back in September I blogged upon my experiences of the first day of the new timetable. It is probably fair to say that I stress tested the timetable and it was not a rip-roaring success.

Today Chiltern Railways had the first weekday of the new Winter Timetable. There are not many changes to the September effort, and the changes that have been made aim to improve reliability and (in the main) the passenger experience.

Today I had a couple of bimbles up and down the line and, as in September, I present the facts and figures on today's track bash.

For the record, this time my travelling today started during the morning peak and finished not long efter the end of the evening peak. The journeys were evenly spread throughout the day although, almost certainly, will not necessarily reflect a sample of every journey type.
  • Total number of individual train journeys: 11
  • Total distance travelled: 388 Miles
  • Longest train journey: 92 Miles
  • Shortest train journey: 5 miles
  • Highest individual average journey speed: 77.9 mph
  • Average speed of all journeys: 60.5 mph
  • Cumulative delay: 29 minutes
  • Number of cancellations experienced: 0
  • Number of times my train was pulled over to allow a Mainline (express) service to overtake: 0
While not perfect, a comparison with 5 September 2011, shows a considerably improved passenger experience. The 11 minute delay in the morning was caused by a track circuit failure just north of Bicester North, while the final journey delay was as a result of a late start, due to waiting for a late-running Mainline service to pass through. I do know that there were problems that did not affect me - for example I saw one Londonbound train from the West Midlands pass through High Wycombe almost half an hour late.

The evening peak service from Marylebone is clearly still not fully sorted yet. There are one or two stations in the Chilterns that are still unhappy with the impact of the new timetable, and the availability of rolling stock is clearly still an issue.

Once again, all of this was made possible thanks to the good people at Chiltern Railways. No free tea today, but altogether a more pleasurable experience than three months ago. Back to normal commuting next week.

PPM: Source Office of Rail Regulation. Extracted 13 Dec 2011.

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