Train firms ordered to stop misusing cancellation loophole

Train operators have been ordered by a regulator to stop misusing a process which removes services from schedules without them being classed as cancelled. The Office of

Rail and Road (ORR) said cancellations are at record levels, and there is “a further gap” between the passenger experience and performance statistics. It found that

operators are increasingly using a process known as p-coding, through which services can be axed as late as 10pm on the previous evening and not included in the timetables that

reliability is measured against. We need all train companies and Network Rail to come up with a more passenger-friendly method of making late changesFeras Alshaker,

ORR For passengers, it means a train they expected to catch when they went to bed can disappear from the timetable by the time they leave for the station the following

morning. Such changes have historically been made to support the introduction of emergency timetables when poor weather or infrastructure damage has required major changes

on certain routes. But over the last year this mechanism has been used when there are not enough staff or trains available. The ORR said it has written to all train

companies telling them to “stop using this inappropriate approach”. TransPennine Express is among the operators that have used p-coding. The ORR also asked Network

Rail to “coordinate the industry to come up with a better way of doing things”. Until a permanent solution is found, the ORR said it is requiring operators to supply data on

“resource availability pre-cancellations”, which it will publish to ensure “full public transparency”.