Merseyrail – When they miss out your station stop and make you leave their train

The present Merseyrail rolling stock (Class 507/8 EMU’s) at Southport Station.

The Liverpool Echo has the story on its web site – see link above

Now don’t get my daughter Jen started on Merseyrail, despite its published performance figures being good she, like Alison McGovern MP, remains unimpressed and that’s putting it politely.

The Public Performance Measure (PPM) is clearly a big factor in how Merseyrail and indeed other rail franchise operators run their trains. Fines lurk in this process too so none of the companies want to have them imposed on them.

But the big question here is how come Merseyrail, which is always high up in the Government’s PPM charts is also seen by travellers as not providing a good enough service. Maybe PPM is not asking the right questions about operating performance?

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

2 thoughts on “Merseyrail – When they miss out your station stop and make you leave their train

  1. Nonconformistradical says:

    ” Maybe PPM is not asking the right questions about operating performance?”

    Tony – this seems normal practice when conducting a survey – the organisation asks the questions they want but that isn’t necessarily the same as what they need to be told – or what those surveyed would like to tell them!

  2. Phil Holden says:

    I think you misunderstood, nonconfromistradcal. PPM is a standard measure of rail punctuality, not a survey. It’s been in use since 1997 and indeed is commonly used across Europe. Trains count as on time if they arrive at their terminus within 5 minutes for commuter services and 10 minutes for long distance. It is measured the same way for all trains across the network and captures all delays whether or not within the control of the train companies and Network Rail, e.g. vandalism, extreme weather and suicides are all counted in. It’s all explained at which also has the latest performance stats. Merseyrail currently scores only behind c2c, but they are both fairly simple railways. When I visited c2c’s depot some years ago they had done so well on managing the trains and their operation that their main cause of delays and cancellations was vandalism. I think what Tony was getting at was that the operators focus on the PPM statistic to the exclusion of almost anything else. Performance measures are essential but they are a blunt instrument and don’t tell all the story. For example, there is scope for “gaming” the system. When I worked in a railway company there were anecdotal stories about trains which were more than 10 minutes late and had no hope of making up the time being held back so that other late running trains might get there on time, therefore minimising the hit on the PPM stat, as it doesn’t matter how late a train is after ten minutes. But it’s better for both Network Rail and the train companies to have 1 train a lot late than many trains just missing the target. One can debate whether this represents the best service for the greatest number of travellers or not….
    Sometimes inappropriate behaviours are induced by a target seen as critical and I think it is essential to have an over-riding requirement for companies and people to do their jobs properly, whatever the targets. As an example, a sales team in a company I was with had quarterly sales targets with a bonus formula. There was a temptation for the sales people to connive with customers to delay orders into the next quarter if they had already “maxed out” on their target for the current quarter, making it easier to get their next bonus. Good for them and bad for the company. Anyone caught doing this was disqualified from getting any bonuses for a year. Repeat offenders risked the sack.
    I agree with Tony that doing well on PPM, while a positive indicator for a train company, doesn’t of itself mean that everything is being done as well as it could be.

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