If you’re forever staring at a board filled with cancelled or delayed trains, it might feel like your station is the worst in Britain.
But if you commute from Manchester Oxford Road station, that actually is the case.
Since the beginning of this year, more than two-thirds (68%) of its trains ran late or were cancelled.
And with this Mancunian station having more than nine million passenger journeys each year, that translates to more than six million disrupted journeys a year.
Has your train journey been delayed? Claim train delay and cancellation compensation
But the disruption at Manchester Oxford Road station was even worse at peak times, with more than three-quarters (77%) of trains not departing or arriving as scheduled.
Our analysis showed that this railway station has the least punctual services, so it takes the undesirable crown of Britain’s most-disrupted railway station.
East Midlands Trains was the worst-performing train company operating at that station, with more than three-quarters (78%) of trains departing or arriving late. This was followed by TransPennine Express (73%).
Manchester was one of the cities massively impacted by the timetable chaos earlier this year, with dire knock-on effects for passengers’ personal and professional lives.
Disrupted railway stations
To find the stations with the most delayed or cancelled services, Which? looked at the 20 busiest stations in the UK excluding London, and then the 10 busiest London stations, since the beginning of this year.
Using data from rail-performance tracking site On Time Trains, we considered how many departures and arrivals were cancelled or at least one minute late. The industry’s measure of punctuality is five or 10 minutes late, depending on the distance and region.
UK’s most-disrupted railway stations
After Manchester’s Oxford Road station, the second-worst was York station, which has more than 10 million annual passenger journeys each year.
Since the beginning of the year, 65% of trains departing from or arriving at York station were late or cancelled altogether.
Gatwick Airport and Birmingham New Street stations were joint-third-worst for punctuality, with 60% of services failing to run to schedule.
London’s most-disrupted train stations
Of the London stations, Clapham Junction was the worst performing, with more than half (54%)of trains running late or being cancelled.
South Western Railway and Southern were the worst-performing train operating companies serving these stations. South Western Railway had 60% late or cancelled trains, and Southern had 58%.
Commuting is a battle
We heard from commuters affected by the disruption at Manchester and Clapham Junction train stations – the most-disrupted in the UK and in London, respectively:
Mark Wylie, 51, a Manchester commuter, said: ‘TransPennine Express’s punctuality is awful, their trains at peak periods are overcrowded and suffer cancellations.
‘There are also far too many cancellations, often with the train running through but not stopping, so that it can make up time.
‘It impacts greatly on a person’s ability to get to and from work or catch an onward connection in Manchester, and results in people getting even earlier trains just in case their chosen service is cancelled.’
Jamie Buchanan-Conroy, 28, a Clapham Junction commuter, said: ‘I was so fed up of the daily delays through Clapham Junction I actually had to change my commute.
‘I paid for an extra zone to take an indirect route to work because the direct train was so unreliable I couldn’t use it to get to work.
‘I’m lucky that I had an alternative option – many have no choice but to face a daily battle simply to get from A to B.’
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No compensation for delays
But despite the huge number of delays, the amount of delayed journeys that passengers could be eligible to claim compensation for was remarkably low.
Currently, only eight train operating companies offer Delay Repay 15, a compensation scheme that allows passengers to claim a refund for any delay longer than 15 minutes – whatever the reason.
Some companies only offer Delay Repay compensation after 30 minutes, and some train companies don’t offer Delay Repay at all.
Those that don’t offer Delay Repay don’t have to pay out for delays and cancellations that are outside of the train operating company’s control.
For example, if there are leaves on the tracks, this would probably be viewed as being outside of the train operating company’s control.
At the 20 busiest stations excluding London, and the 10 busiest stations in London, passengers on only up to 13% of all delayed or cancelled services could be eligible for compensation.
How to claim compensation for late or cancelled trains
If your train journey is disrupted, make sure you claim for compensation.
We have a free guide on how to claim compensation if your train company is signed up to Delay Repay.
If your train company isn’t on Delay Repay, you might still be able to make a claim under its passenger charter.
You might even be able to make a claim under the Consumer Rights Act travel amendments.
Why we need automatic train compensation
We think that an inconsistent approach to compensation across the network leads to many passengers missing out on the compensation they should be owed.
Which? managing director of public markets Alex Hayman said: ‘Passengers have told us reliability is hugely important to them.
‘People have been left deeply frustrated at the unacceptably high levels of delays and cancellations, which impact on their everyday lives.
‘Passengers must be at the centre of the forthcoming government rail review – it must look at performance targets to drive improvements in punctuality and reliability for passengers.
‘The review must not be used as an excuse to delay real action to improve passengers’ experiences on the trains today. As a first step, the government must introduce fully automatic compensation, ensuring more passengers get the money they are owed.’
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