29 March 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Travel chaos: 237,000 rush hour trains cancelled since 2019
  • Blue light bill bombshell as emergency services face £144m fuel and insurance costs

Travel chaos: 237,000 rush hour trains cancelled since 2019

  • Average of 130 morning rush hour trains cancelled every day since 2019
  • Most cancelled train in Britain is the 6.40am from Cardiff to Nottingham
  • Lib Dems warn “passengers are having to roll the dice every day” as trains cancelled at short notice

A shocking 237,000 morning rush hour trains have faced cancellations since 2019, figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

This is equivalent to an average of 130 morning service trains being cancelled per day. The data, obtained from Network Rail through a Freedom of Information request by the Liberal Democrats, shows the total number of trains between 6am and 9am that have been either been fully or partly cancelled since 2019.

2023 saw 55,829 morning rush hour train services either fully or partly cancelled, a 10% rise on the previous year and the worst of any year since 2019. The most cancelled service was the 06:40 train from Cardiff Central to Nottingham, with passengers facing a staggering 68 cancellations in 2023, more than once every five days. The train operator with the worst record was Northern Trains with 25,578 morning services cancelled since 2019.

It comes as passengers are hit with painful rail price hikes, with fares rising by 5% in 2024 and 5.9% in 2023. The Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to tighten powers to sanction failing train operators, along with a freeze on rail fares.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Transport, Wera Hobhouse MP said:

The Conservative Government has hammered passengers with rail fare hikes and a train network that simply cannot be relied upon. Passengers are having to roll the dice every day, uncertain as to whether they will get to their final destinations on time, or even at all.

To add insult to injury, instead of sorting out the near unusable network, ministers have punished passengers with ever higher ticket prices.

This Conservative Government has let rail operators fail their customers without any fear of punishment. It’s time for the government to freeze rail fares for passengers, and sanction train companies who are running rail services into the ground.

Blue light bill bombshell as emergency services face £144m fuel and insurance costs

Emergency services are set to pay an “eye-watering” £24.6 million more in fuel and insurance costs compared to costs five years ago.

Over the past five years, emergency services have paid a combined £549 million in these costs.

Liberal Democrats warn that victims and patients are “paying the price” due to a lack of support from the Conservative Government.

Emergency services are predicted to pay almost £150 million this year in fuel and insurance costs – an increase of over £24 million in just five years, a Liberal Democrat FOI has revealed.

Data provided to the Liberal Democrats by ambulance, police and fire services paints a worrying picture about spiralling costs.

This year, emergency services are predicted to pay £144 million in fuel and insurance costs. This is a £24.6 million, or 21%, increase in costs from 2019.

Over the past five years, ambulance services have paid £229 million in fuel and insurance whilst police services have paid £132 million and the fire services have paid £188 million.

The Liberal Democrats are calling on emergency service vehicles to be given discounted rates on fuel paid for from the windfall tax revenues on the oil and gas giants.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Home Affairs, Alistair Carmichael MP said:

Our emergency services are facing a blue light bill bombshell. They are already at breaking point, and thanks to this Conservative Government’s economic mismanagement, they are being saddled with eye-watering bills on top of it.

Our emergency services are not being properly supported, and it is victims of crime, patients and others in need that are paying the price.

The Government must help reduce soaring bills for emergency service, paid for by a proper windfall tax on profiteering oil and gas giants.

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6 Comments

  • >” 237,000 rush hour trains cancelled since 2019”
    Given this covers CoViD lockdown, I would not be shouting this particular “statistic” too loudly…

  • So we’re becoming masters of meaningless statistics, eh? 237,000 trains cancelled sounds shocking but actually gives no useful information unless we are also told what proportion of trains this represents.

    Trying to estimate that info: A bit of googling says that there were 24 000 trains a day in 2019. 6am to 9pm is about 20% of the train-working day, so that suggests about 4800 trains a day in that period. We are told on average 130 are cancelled or part cancelled. That’s 2.7% of trains. Not a brilliant figure but hardly a national scandal.

    For context, during Covid it was largely impossible for rail companies to train new drivers because training required trainer and trainee in close proximity in the cab. That lead to a shortage of drivers when lockdown ended, and to make it worse, clearing the backlog meant taking drivers off driving so they could train others, forcing cancellations. That’s not do deny that some TOCs did a lot worse than others – Northern in particular did awfully badly on cancellations. And the problem was exacerbated because TOCs historically tended to rely on drivers working overtime to fill the schedule, rather than having more trained drivers available.

  • Steve Trevethan 30th Mar '24 - 6:55am

    Might H. Q consider making at least some statements which are also short, catchy slogans?

    Might doing so get us more headlines, votes and supporter encouragement?

    “Fund the blue lighters fully!” ?

    “Simplify train services!” ?

    “Fewer Collections of Complex Sentences!” ?

  • …paid for from the windfall tax revenues on the oil and gas giants.

    And how long will that last after the remaining “oil and gas giants” abandon UK waters?

    The oil price is currently $86 a barrel, the same price it was 15 years ago…

    ‘Brent crude oil’ [click on ’25Y’ under the horizontal axis]:
    https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/brent-crude-oil

    Gas has now fallen back to 68p a therm (2.3p per kWh), the same as a decade ago…

    ‘UK Natural Gas’ [click on ’25Y’ under the horizontal axis]:
    https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/uk-natural-gas

    ‘North Sea oil giant demands windfall tax overhaul after £63m hit’ [March 2024]:
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2024/03/28/north-sea-oil-enquest-demands-windfall-tax-overhaul-losses/

    North Sea oil company EnQuest is demanding an overhaul of Jeremy Hunt’s windfall tax after claiming it has been hit by an effective rate equal to 113pc of profits. […]

    The results are another sign of the damaging impact the windfall tax is having on the UK’s oil and gas operators. Fellow drilling companies such as Harbour Energy have already vowed to halt investment in the North Sea.

  • Jenny Barnes 30th Mar '24 - 4:56pm

    Oil & gas..
    These fuels are inelastic in both supply and demand. It takes a big change in price to move the dial either way, and when it comes to increasing supply, company expectations over a 20 year timeframe are as important. Once the price of oil goes over $100/bbl the global economy tends to go into a recession, reducing demand until the price drops back to around the $75-$80 mark. It can’t drop much below that because the marginal costs of production – in the quantities we are consuming – means that they can’t make a profit below that. If the world could live on just Saudi oil that costs about $5/bbl to extract things would be different. Also, ofc, governments are saying they will reduce demand for oil. Hasn’t happened yet – demand goes up about 2% pa every year. If only we had stopped increasing our demand for oil in 1990, we would only be burning half what we’re burning now.

  • > The oil price is currently $86 a barrel, the same price it was 15 years ago…
    From the graphs you link to, for the majority of the period 2014~2021 it was well below $71.40 per barrel (prices above this level incur the Energy Profits Levy, until 2029). Which is circa $11 above the threshold price many regard as the threshold for North Sea investment. Given companies can avoid paying the EPL and gain tax rebates for investing in the North Sea, EnQuest’s claims need to be more closely scrutinised…

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