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Trains failed to stop at stations more than a million times over the last four years, the Mirror can reveal.
Helpless passengers watched as services they were waiting to board rushed past platforms at which they were due to stop, according to industry statistics.
Rail companies frequently skip scheduled stops to try and make up time when trains become delayed.
While the tactic benefits passengers already aboard and travelling to the final destination, commuters who were hoping to board must wait for the next train.
Those inside carriages but not going to the final stop must get off and alter plans.
Network Rail figures released under freedom of information rules showed the total number of “fail to stop events” recorded by each operator for each year from 2016 to 2019.
They reveal that 22,990,135 trains were planned over the period – but 1,026,916 stops were missed.
South Western Railway, which runs trains into London Waterloo, has one of the worst records (Image: Getty)As well as skipping stations to make-up for lost time, trains can run past platforms if a station closes suddenly because of a security incident or a passenger suffers an accident.
Rail, Maritime and Transport union assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The profit-driven nature of rail franchises means that even the basic requirement for trains to stop and collect passengers takes second place to the train companies' commercial interests.
“Passengers are actually left stranded so rail fat cats can carry on making money.
“These figures show yet again why our railways need to be bought back into public ownership and run as a public service.”
The worst performer last year was South Western Railway, which runs services between South West London, Surrey, Hampshire and London Waterloo.
Its trains failed to make 135 scheduled stops on average everyday last year.
It was also the worst in 2018, with 131 missed stops daily.
The worst performing company for the previous two years was GTR, also known as Govia Thameslink, which operates the Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services.
Its trains run from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Kent and Sussex into London. Stations include Brighton, Luton and Peterborough.
GTR runs trains to and from Bedford railway station (Image: Googlemaps)In 2016, GTR trains skipped an average 233 stations everyday – rising to 253 in 2017.
On Northern Rail, which has undergone several rebrands in recent years, 3,507,432 trains skipped 84,992 stations over four years.
Northern Rail services failed to stop thousands of times (Image: PA)The operator serves passengers across the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside, with commuters travelling to cities including Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Leeds.
Its services missed an average 84 stations a day last year.
Merseyrail, which serves Liverpool and the wider region, planned 644,522 trains from 2016 to 2019.
But they missed 36,701 stops. In 2016, it missed an average 26 a day.
Merseyrail trains missed an average 26 stations a day (Image: Daily Mirror)West Midlands Trains, whose trains run to stations including Birmingham New Street, Walsall and Wolverhampton, had 1,331,242 trains between 2016 and 2019 – but missed 50,217 stops.
Last year it averaged 57 a day.
Arriva Trains Wales, which later became Transport for Wales, operated 1,322,752 trains over the period, but missed 36,067 stops.
Arriva Trains Wales, later Transport for Wales, missed 36,067 stops in four years (Image: Daily Post)It missed an average 30 stops daily in 2016.
The Mirror's analysis reveals that across Britain in 2016, a total 7,336,386 trains were due to make 89,212,365 stops.
But there were 235,272 incidents where they sailed straight through, leaving potential passengers stranded on platforms.
An average 643 scheduled stops were missed everyday in 2016.
The problem has got worse.
In 2017, some 7,372,401 trains planned to make 90,390,233 stops but skipped 260,0008 – an average 712 each day.
The following year 7,472,068 trains were due to make 93,958,045 stops, but 265,839 were axed – an average 728 a day.
Last year, a total of 7,809,273 trains were due to make 95,074,908 stops.
But 265,797 were missed, again leading to an average 728 fail to stops daily.
Union leaders renewed calls to renationalise the railways.
Transport Salaried Staffs' Association general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “It’s great to see the Daily Mirror expose the deceitful mess our railways have become.
TSSA chief Manuel Cortes (Image: Daily Mirror)“The Tories’ Frankenstein privatisation of our trains is an abject failure and the latest 'failing to stop' figures prove it once again.
“It’s a scandal that millions of passengers are paying the highest fares in Europe just to see train bosses allow services they rely on to wilfully skip stations – all in the name of making sure greedy rail fat cats don't get fined for their galling incompetence.
“We urgently need a reboot of a system which has for far too long been rigged so that – heads or tails – the privateers always win.
“Only public ownership of our railways will cure this and make sure our trains are run properly, for people not profit.”
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who unearthed the figures, said: “These figures show how fundamentally train operators are failing at reliability.
Lib Dem leadership hopeful Layla Moran uncovered the figures (Image: Philip Coburn)“The least people expect is the train to stop at their station vaguely on time, yet firms cannot even manage that.
"These shocking figures are a real kick in the teeth for commuters who see ticket prices rise year on year for a poorer and poorer service.
"We cannot have another million incidents of trains not stopping at stations."
The Rail Delivery Group's director of planning, engineering and operations, Susie Homan, said: “Train operators work together with Network Rail to run services as planned and, overall, fewer than 0.3% of stops a year are not made.
London Waterloo is normally the country's busiest station (Image: PA)“Britain’s railway is one of the busiest in Europe and operators only cancel planned stops as a last resort to prevent disrupted services causing knock-on delays which affect more passengers.
“We understand this is frustrating which is why we ensure there are alternative options for customers to continue their journeys, encourage passengers to claim compensation when their journey has been delayed and are working together to tackle delays by investing across the railway to reduce incidents that cause disruption.”
A South Western Railway spokesman said: “We recognise that trains failing to call at their scheduled stations is frustrating for customers and should only be used when it is clearly in the passenger interest to get services back on time during disruption.
“Without amending services, delays could quickly spread disruption across the network inconveniencing even greater numbers of passengers.
“To prevent disruption, and subsequently the need to skip stops, we are working together with Network Rail to introduce measures that will improve performance.
“We have also brought additional management expertise and new service recovery software into the Control to ensure where we do need to remove stops we are making the right decision in the overall interest of our passengers."
GTR’s chief operating officer Steve White said: “We operate around 20% of all trains in the UK, making around 50,000 station stops each day in the normal timetable.
Thameslink is one of GTR's franchises (Image: PA)
It runs trains into the capital (Image: PA)“Our aim is to operate all trains on time, which means stopping at every station within 59 seconds of schedule.
This article first appeared on www.mirror.co.uk
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