More than one in 10 (12.3 per cent) trains failed to reach their destinations on time last year, according to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
This is the worst performance for a 12-month period since the year ending September 2006, when the figure reached 12.5 per cent.
Lianna Etkind, of the Campaign for Better Transport, claimed the figures show that train firms are "still delivering a very lacklustre service" despite "sky-high prices".
Passengers using Govia Thameslink Railway – which owns embattled operator Southern – suffered the most, with more than a quarter (25.4 per cent) of services not arriving on time.
On Wednesday the Rail, Marime and Transport union announced that its members on Southern will walk out for 24 hours on February 22, threatening fresh misery for passengers in the row over the role of conductors.
And today the dispute dramatically flared up again after members of the drivers’ union rejected a deal aimed at resolving a long-running row over driver-only trains.
Aslef said a proposed resolution to the dispute was rejected by 54.1 per cent in a turnout of 72 per cent.
General secretary Mick Whelan said: “We understand and support the decision arrived at democratically by our members and will now work to deliver a resolution in line with their expectations.”
Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer of Southern’s owners, Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “Naturally we’re saddened and hugely disappointed, as will be our passengers, with today’s decision by drivers, particularly as the agreement carried the full support and recommendation of the Aslef leadership.
“We now need to understand the issues which led to this outcome and we’ll be seeking to meet with the union as soon as possible to see how we can agree a way forward.”
The two unions have been in dispute with Southern for almost a year over staffing issues, including whether a second, safety critical member of staff should be guaranteed on trains.
A series of strikes have been held, causing chaos for Southern’s 300,000 passengers, who now face the prospect of further disruption.
The rail industry counts trains as being on time if they arrive at their terminating stations within five minutes of their schedule for commuter services and within 10 minutes for long distance routes.
Separate figures show 3.8% of trains across Britain were cancelled or at least half an hour late last year, the highest moving annual average since September 2003.
Ms Etkind said: "It's time that the Government got a grip of the situation and starts to give passengers what they want: an affordable and reliable rail service.
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"They should begin by ensuring that rail contracts give stronger incentives for punctuality, reliability and passenger service, as has successfully happened on London Overground and Merseyrail, and channel investment into those worn-out parts of the network which cause delays."
The latest bi-annual National Rail Passenger Survey by Transport Focus in autumn last year revealed that just 81% of passengers are satisfied with Britain's railways, a figure which has not been lower since spring 2007.
Rail fares increased by an average of 2.3 per cent last month, sparking protests at railway stations.
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “At the moment, on some parts of the railway passengers are not getting the service they expect but on other parts punctuality is at a record high.
“In London and the South East a combination of congestion on the network, prolonged strike action and disruption while major upgrades take place is hitting punctuality.
“Across the railway, train operators and Network Rail are working together every day to deliver more reliable and safe services for passengers.”