Delays on journeys last year cost passengers £1 billion in lost time, MPs have found.
The loss comes despite the fact those using rail networks forked out £5.1 billion in fares, the public accounts committee revealed.
Passengers often complain about the lack of information when delays occur, which is due to poor communications between Network Rail, the incident site, control room and the emergency services, the MPs found.
Communications are so poor fire and rescue services sometimes do not know who to contact and are forced into taking decisions without knowing what the effect will be on passengers.
Edward Leigh, chairman of the committee, called for action.
"The extent to which the train companies are abiding by official guidance on communicating to passengers should be monitored," he said.
"This is not the best way to manage rail incidents to minimise disruption on the network. At the very least the emergency services should always know whom to phone."
Railway performance has returned to levels before the 2000 Hatfield derailment at a huge cost to taxpayers, the report found.
Shadow transport minister Stephen Hammond said: "Most worrying is the PAC's identification of the emergency service being left in the dark. The Report states fire and emergency services often do not know whom to contact. This puts safety at risk and often impacts on the journeys of other passengers not directly involved.
"Network Rail needs to get its act together and put in systems that work and keep people informed at all times."
During 2006/07 the Department of Transport provided Network Rail with £3.4 billion and £1.7 billion to train operating companies. The same period saw over 1.2 billion make journeys on the train in Britain.