Trains Skip Stops to Game Punctuality Tables

By Gary Cutlack on at

The rail franchises have discovered an amazing new punctuality hack that lets them pretend everything is running to schedule -- skipping stops on the line. This happened on over 52,500 services last year, as rail companies attempted to keep the trains at least within laughing distance of what the timetables promise.

There's an industry term for this; FTS, or failure to stop. Govia Thameslink has been crowned the FTS king, with the service it administers for the greater good recording 16,000 no-stop events during the 12 months to the end of February, during which time their trains skipped around 50 stops a day. Making passengers cycle from confusion to anger to resigned sadness as their stations trundle past.

GTR says it does this because one delay can back up the entire line, with a spokesperson explaining: "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."

The rail franchises seem to think this is a miracle cure for the network, though, as the number of FTSs has risen from seeing 116 trains miss at least one stop per day in the year ending 2015 to 160 doing the same in the year to Feb 2018, as the franchises attempt a little Beeching action of their own. [BBC]

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