You and yours on Radio 4 today has debated the meaning of on-time for UK train companies. For short journeys trains counted on-time can be up to 5 minutes late and for longer journeys the margin of error increases to 10 minutes. There is now a discussion about producing real time data about whether the trains are there on the minute.

What do other sectors do? Well one answer is to play with the schedule and create a bigger margin of error. The way this could be done is to add another five or ten minutes to the expected arrival time. It is possible that because of slots at stations, the train timetables for operational purposes can’t cope with that. There is also the problem of intermediate station stops. What would their scheduled times be? But there is always variation in performance, so trains will either be slightly early or late for a number of reasons and a simple answer would be for the timetable to reflect that. Then we could see when trains are operating within tight performance parameters or not.

What do you think, can people live with the uncertainty of being 5 or 10 minutes late or do we want the appearance of arriving on time by playing with the data?

Mike Bourne

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