A record number of trains in the UK arrived on time during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some 86.4 per cent of stops were made within a minute of their scheduled arrival time between April and June, an improvement of 17 per cent year-on-year, according to data from the Office for Rail and Road.
During the same period, 96.2 per cent of trains were within five to 10 minutes of their scheduled arrival time.
The figures represent the best rate of punctuality for railway services in the UK since records began in 1997.
However, very few people were able to appreciate the improved timekeeping.
Between April and July 2020, passenger numbers fell to as low as four per cent compared to before lockdown, and only rose to around 17 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, as the majority of the population was encouraged to stay at home “to save lives”.
Only 1.2 million trains were timetabled to run during the same period, a drop of 36.7 per cent compared to the previous year.
The number of trains has now increased to 90 per cent of normal levels, while passenger numbers have risen to 42 per cent of 2019 levels, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
“I think it’s incumbent on all of us to demonstrate that the railways are safe, to take the railways from time to time and reassure people of the safety and efficacy of the use of the railways and all other public transport systems,” he said.
Susie Homan, director of people, operations and railway strategy for the Rail Delivery Group industry body, said: “Rail companies are doing more so people can travel with confidence, but as we increase cleaning and put on more services, we know that people also want to be confident they will arrive on time.
“We’re using everything we’ve learned during this period of good performance to keep trains running punctually long-term.”