Anger and frustration at reliability of Sheffield rail services to London and Manchester

Sheffield railway station.
Sheffield railway station.
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Rail services between Sheffield and London, which now take longer following controversial timetable changes, are actually arriving in the capital up to 15 minutes later than scheduled, The Star can reveal.

Operator East Midlands Trains changed timetables of its services between the city and London St Pancras in May, a decision it said it made to enable the new Thameslink timetable in London to be introduced.

Now, figures have shown that just two of the daily journeys were arriving in London on time - the 6am and 8.50pm services, with some peak time services arriving on average 15 minutes late over the period between July 19 and August 16.

The Master Cutler service, which now leaves Sheffield at 7.26am and takes two hours and 15 minutes, arrived on average a-minute-and-a-half late.

Chris Morgan, chairman of Friends of Dore and Totley Station, said: "I think we are making too much fuss about the timetables when the services never stick to them anyway.

"It's got to the point now where if people need to get somewhere by a certain time, they are booking the service before to make sure they arrive in time."

Services returning from London St Pancras to Sheffield also arrived late over the last four weeks, with some arriving back in the Steel City on average 18 minutes late over the same time period.

The return Master Cutler journey, which leaves London at 4.47pm, should take two hours and 12 minutes but arrived back in the city on average four minutes late.

Mr Morgan said: "The timetables allow the trains around one minute dwell time at stations, which is just nowhere near enough. For example, if you have 100 people at Dore and Totley waiting to get on a certain service, it's going to take longer than a minute.

"If you then add similar delays at other stations along the route, you end up with a long delay. They are trying to get masses of people on trains through London and I get investing in services there but we in the north end up with the rough end of the stick."

Average delays to services between Sheffield and Manchester Piccadilly, which should take less than an hour, ran on average 10 minutes late.

The return journey across the Pennines also ran late over the same four-week period.

Mr Morgan said: "The railway industry is schizophrenic with the various arms all promising more than they can collectively provide. The train operating companies are trying to cram ever more trains onto tracks that haven't capacity to operate them.

The news comes after rail passengers were told the price of regulated rail fares could rise by as much as 3.2 per cent in January.

The rise, determined by the retail price index (RPI) inflation measure, could see a season ticket for journeys between Sheffield and London rise from £11,484 to £11,851.

An annual pass between Sheffield and Manchester would rise by £76 to £2,452.

Emma Knight, of East Midlands Trains, said: "We have been the UK's most punctual long distance train operator for the last nine years, and that's a record we are very proud of.

"Over the last few weeks, we have seen major work taking place at Derby with the Derby Resignalling programme, which has impacted on our services from Sheffield to London. The introduction of the new May timetable also means that more trains are running on the parts of our route we share with other operators, which has resulted in a knock-on effect on our performance.

"Along with Network Rail, we are focused on working hard to ensure we provide a reliable and punctual service for our customers and with the introduction of the new timetable, we have invested in additional staff, three extra high speed trains, and improved training for despatch staff at key stations.

"Anybody experiencing a delay of 30 minutes or over is entitled to compensation under our Delay Repay Scheme."

The Department for Transport disputed the claim that the Transport Secretary had ordered East Mildands Trains to prioritise the Thameslink trains over services in the North.

It also said Midland Main Line improvements will cut journey times between Sheffield and London by up to 20 minutes from 2020.