Avanti West Coast, the underfire railway company that runs Liverpool’s main service to London, has been revealed as Britain’s worst train operator for delays.
NationalWorld has matched the compensation figures for delayed and disrupted journeys with the latest Office for Rail and Road statistics on passenger numbers, to rank the UK’s operators.
Avanti came bottom of the pile - paying out delay compensation claims at a rate eight times the national average.
The train company has come under intense scrutiny in recent months over swingeing cuts to services, last minute changes to timetables, and delays, with the government facing pressure to re-nationalise its routes.
Avanti was given a limited six-month contract renewal by the government in October, after providing what Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan described as an ‘unacceptable’ service to passengers.
Metro Mayor for the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, has previously called for Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express to be stripped of their franchise if they don’t improve services.
TransPennine Express, which departs and terminates from Liverpool Lime Street, ranked as the ninth worst operator in Britain for delays, based on the number of successful claims per 10,000 passenger journeys.
Avanti West Coast approved 167,002 delay compensation claims between 24 July and 15 October. That is a rate of 261 payouts per 10,000 passengers journeys, eight times higher than the national average.
An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: “We know that last summer our customers were not getting the service they deserved and these figures reflect an extremely challenging time. We are sorry for the enormous amount of frustration and inconvenience this caused and we’re grateful for the patience our passengers have shown.
“Over the last few months, our sole focus has been to do everything we can to return to a more resilient operation which delivers more services for our customers and communities. Our new timetable introduced in December has greatly increased the number of services we run and customers are now seeing the benefits of that, with more trains, greater connectivity and tickets on sale much earlier.”
The story behind the rankings
Figures released by the Office for Rail and Road (ORR) in January show how many compensation claims for delayed journeys have been dealt with by 24 railway operators across England, Wales and Scotland, and cover a period between 24 July 2022 to 15 October 2022.
During that time, operators have closed 1.45 million delay compensation claims from passengers, with 1.16 million (81%) resulting in a payout. That is an average of 13,900 payouts per day.
The number of claims was a 252% increase on the same time last year – however the railways are far busier this year following the easing of pandemic restrictions. Compared to the same period in 2019, there was an increase of 2.1%.
The ORR says there has been a deterioration in train punctuality and reliability, which has also contributed to the rise in the number of compensation claims. Claims are most commonly made via the national Delay Repay Scheme.
Passengers can claim if they arrive at their destination 30 or more minutes late because of delays or cancellations (or 15 minutes for some operators), and are entitled to a 100% refund for delays of 60 minutes or more.
NationalWorld has matched the compensation figures with the latest ORR statistics on passenger numbers, to rank the operators.
While the latest passenger numbers cover July to September, so are not a perfect match for the compensation statistics, the rate does give a better indication of the number of successful claims relative to the size of the operator. The analysis reveals huge disparities across services.
Across Great Britain as a whole, there were 32 successful claims per 10,000 passenger journeys, but in the case of the worst offender – Avanti West Coast – the rate was more than eight times this.
The 12 worst train operators for delays, based on the number of successful claims per 10,000 passenger journeys, are ranked below.
12 worst train operators for delays
- Avanti West Coast approved 167,002 delay compensation claims, a rate of 261 payouts per 10,000 passenger journeys
- Grand Central approved 9,207 claims, a rate of 230 per 10,000 journeys
- Lumo approved 5,876 claims, a rate of 196 per 10,000 journeys
- London North Eastern Railway approved 110,923 claims, a rate of 188 per 10,000 journeys
- Hull Trains approved 4,414 claims, or a rate of 147 per 10,000 passengers
- Caledonian Sleeper approved 1,210 compensation claims, a rate of 121 per 10,000 journeys
- East Midlands Railway approved 65,940 claims, which gives a rate of 103 per 10,000 journeys
- Heathrow Express approved 9,260 claims for delay compensation, a rate of 84 per 10,000 passengers.
- TransPennine Express approved 41,092 claims for delay compensation, also a rate of 84 per 10,000 journeys.
- Great Western Railway approved 166,765 claims for delays, a rate of 83 per 10,000 journeys.
- CrossCountry have suspended all services on August 13
- Southeastern approved 112,225 claims, which gives a rate of 38 per 10,000 passengers.