10th April 2012
By Ronan Kelly, Train Performance Manager
We’ve just recorded our strongest ever quarter for punctuality on the rail network in Ireland.
Now, nothing gets a reaction like statistics like these, so we thought we’d outline for you how they are measured and verified.
Essentially, the posters you see in stations every four weeks, detailing performance across all our routes, are the raw data showing two measures: punctuality and reliability.
Reliability is whether the train runs or not – generally the figure is over 99% as thankfully we have very few cancellations.
Punctuality is the measurement of timekeeping. The criteria for punctuality set out by the National Transport Authority measures punctuality as on time or within 10 minutes of time, except for DART which is measured as on time or within 5 minutes of time.
For the first three months of 2012, the figures show:
- On Intercity, 97.5% punctuality was achieved
- On Commuter services, punctuality was 98.8%
- DART services achieved 91.1%
Compared to Quarter 1 of 2011, this represents a 6.6% increase in Intercity punctuality (from 91.9% in 2011), a 1.8% improvement for Commuter, and a 3.4% improvement for DART.
This very strong performance is the result of the efforts of staff in every function in Iarnród Éireann - from drivers and station staff to those who maintain our fleet and network, to level crossing and signalling staff including those in our Central Traffic Control. The benefits of investment in fleet, infrastructure and other systems in recent years have also helped to improve performance.
These figures are also the raw figures, which include delays caused by factors outside our control – such as trucks hitting bridges. The NTA performance reports under the Public Service Obligation contract with Iarnród Éireann measures our punctuality excluding such delays. They also independently verify our performance figures.
Internally, we in Train Performance track and monitor our punctuality, collating the data and apportioning of causes, and enabling each department to see how they are performing, and identifying areas where action is needed to improve performance.
In any given year, the fourth quarter is always the most difficult for punctuality – the dreaded wheel-slip caused by wet leaves and other weather factors tend to play a part. The last two 4th quarters saw 2010's prolonged snowfall, and serious flooding in the Dublin area in 2011.
However, the challenge for us now is to ensure that this strong start to 2012 is continued right through the year – and you can see how we’re doing through those monthly posters, and most importantly in the timekeeping you experience on board.