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Reliable Trains: Keeping up the Good Work


Reliable Trains: Keeping up the Good Work

Our industry’s customers are very consistent; they give us a very simple message, whether they are passengers or businesses that send freight by rail.  The message is run my train on time.

The industry’s National Task Force (NTF) brings together TOCs, FOCs, Network Rail, the DfT and the ORR with the purpose of agreeing and then delivering levels of punctuality that meet or exceed customers’ needs.  In the last ten years, since the NTF was rethought and restructured, our GB railway has improved performance to such a degree that ‘late trains’ are no longer the cheap jibe and joke they were for tens of years beforehand and, when surveyed, customers recognise this improved performance, i.e. they do notice when their train is late.

In 2003, noting that failures caused 50% of all TOC self delays, the NTF set the Fleet community the task of improving technical reliability by 50% in the five years 2004 – 2009.  This led to the creation of the national Fleet Reliability Improvement Programme (NFRIP) and through it we achieved 54% improvement.  In 2008 the NTF set the same challenge for the period 2009 - 2014 but consciously expressed it as an improvement in the Public Performance Measure of 1 PPM point.  To date, with one year to go, we have improved technical reliability by 40%, but the impact on PPM has been less than the 1 PPM sought at only 0.3 PPM point because of increases in Delay Per Incident during the time period.

The 20 point plan was conceived as a tool to help deliver improvements in rolling stock performance by sharing the knowledge initially identified through the former N-FRIP.  However despite the significant improvement in technical reliability delivered the Fleet community needs to continue to improve, both because of the Delay Per Incident challenge and because TOC delays due to other causes have also been improving; at March 2013 the proportion of National TOC delay caused by Fleet is still the biggest single cause at 43% of all passenger TOC self delay per 100k train miles.

The continued evolution of the 20 Point Plan is a visible demonstration of the will that differing businesses have to work together to continue to rise to the challenge of providing reliable punctual journeys for customers or punctual trips for those sending Freight by Rail.  Following its guidance and adding new knowledge as you develop it, are both foundations of delivering further improvements in technical reliability.  Now we additionally have the new challenge of working with the Operations Community in managing reductions in delay per incident, Thus in addition to focussing on reducing incidents we should be thinking about what the Fleet community can do to assist train drivers to rapidly respond if the train they are driving does suffer a technical fault.

Focusing on both reducing incidents further and faster and how to reduce their impact when they do occur are both necessary to meet our customers’ needs on our increasingly busy and successful railway.

Gary Cooper

NTF Business Director

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