Rail punctuality reached record levels following Covid-19 outbreak

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Rail punctuality soared when services and demand plummeted following the coronavirus outbreak, new figures show.

Some 86.4% of stops at stations were made within a minute of the schedule between April and July, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said.

This is compared with 69.4% during the same period last year.

The proportion of trains arriving at their destination within five or 10 minutes of the timetable – depending on the type of service – was 96.2% in the same quarter in 2020.

This represents the best performance since current records began in 1997.

There was a “substantial reduction” in train services after pandemic restrictions were introduced in March, the ORR said.

Some 1.2 million trains were scheduled to run across Britain’s railways between April and July, down 36.7% year-on-year.

This coincided with a huge drop in usage as people were urged to stay at home.

Department for Transport data shows demand fell to as low as 4% of pre-pandemic levels over the quarter, and did not exceed 17%.

Train services were ramped up to around 90% of normal levels earlier this month as schools reopened in England and Wales and workers were encouraged to return to offices.

Susie Homan, director of people, operations and railway strategy for industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Rail companies are doing more so people can travel with confidence, but as we increase cleaning and put on more services, we know that people also want to be confident they will arrive on time.

“We’re using everything we’ve learned during this period of good performance to keep trains running punctually long-term.”

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