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Northern Fail Data – One Year On

Martino Corbelli Martino Corbelli on 20 May 2019
3 minute read
A public interest story

Regular users of Northern services may well roll their eyes at a reminder of the transport firm, which hit the headlines last year thanks to rafts of cancellations, delayed services and poorly running trains. Commuters in the North West in particular were understandably angry. Data compiled over the last year shows that the total number of cancelled stops totalled over a quarter of a million.

This data is brought to you, courtesy of SPINR the technology used to aggregate, transform and prepare the data from the Northern Fail App.

About the data

This data shows what service levels have been like during the last 12 months across Northern's rail network and includes data on:

  • Full cancellations
  • Part cancellations
  • Carriage reductions
  • Cancelled reasons

The data presented below was collected by the Northern Fail App, which is free to download and use. The app records all ‘announced’ cancellations and reports this to users in full or by individual station. Over 16,000 people have downloaded the app and many commuters regularly use the information to help them each day as they travel to and from work. The app has a healthy 4.9 star rating from Google Play.

What it tells us

Over the past year, May 2018 – May 2019, there were 15,800 full cancellations and 18,696 part cancellations, with an additional 28,198 trains running carriage reductions. The reasons for the cancellations are many and varied, but the most common factor was 'a shortage of train drivers.’  

You can now see the data reports below for the following:

  • Top 10 Cancellation Reasons
  • Top 10 Stations by Number of Cancelled Trains
  • Top 10 Stations by Number of Carriage Reductions
  • Total Number of Full & Part Cancellations Vs Carriage Reductions Over Time
Top 10 Cancellation Reasons

A shortage of train drivers  8,519 23.3%
A fault on this train  4,513 12.3%
A fault with the signalling system 2,583 7.1%
A shortage of train conductors 1,820 5.0%
Train crew being delayed 1,775 4.8%
More trains than usual needing repairs at the same time 1,732 4.7%
A broken down train 1,622 4.4%
Congestion 1,140 3.1%
A shortage of train crew 1,105 3.0%
The emergency services dealing with an incident 918 2.5%
Top 10 Stations by Number of Cancelled Trains

Top 10 Stations by Number of Carriage Reductions

Total Number of Full & Part Cancellations Vs Carriage Reductions Over Time

Data collection

The Northern Fail App logs all ‘announced’ cancellations (trains cancelled in advance of a service departing its maiden station) but does not include delayed trains that are subsequently cancelled or services that are reinstated - by cross referencing with the official statistics, 1,963 of the announced cancellations appear to have been reinstated. Part cancelled services data does include in-journey cancellations. Scheduling and timetable changes are not included and little data was collected during 47 strike days during the period of May 2018 – May 2019.

Why have we compiled this data?

The principle of Northern Fail is absolutely aligned with SPINR’s own ethos and objectives. As a data management technology company, we believe in the power of data to improve people’s lives. In this case, we would hope that by sharing this information the truth about the poor levels of service to commuters in the North West can be quantified, resulting in better decisions being made in the future to improve the train service for all.

Information is power, the old saying goes but it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume and complexity of data available in the modern world. To truly tap into the power of any data, we need to be able to aggregate, transform and prepare it into clear dashboards, reports and illustrations for all to see and appreciate. You can expect more public interest data related stories from SPINR in future.

*For the full press release please contact Luke McDowell at Context Public Relations

Media Contact:

Luke McDowell
Context Public Relations
Email -
Tel - 01625 507200

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Martino Corbelli
Martino Corbelli

Martino Corbelli, Chief Product Officer at SPINR explores how integration-Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) technology can simplify the data complexities barring the way to digital transformation.


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