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Friday, June 5, 1998 Published at 06:38 GMT 07:38 UK


The complaints standing at platforms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ...

These commuters on South West Trains have actually made fewer complaints

The number of railway passengers complaining of poor quality service has shot up, according to the latest figures released on Friday.

The BBC's Robin Edwards reports (0'53")
Late and unreliable services, together with overcrowding, were the main causes of the 6,071 complaints received by the Central Rail Users Consultative Committee in the first three months of 1998, a 94% increase on the same period last year.

"We are now receiving more complaints in three months than we received in a whole year less than a decade ago," said the committee.

[ image: But there was a huge rise in complaints about Great Western]
But there was a huge rise in complaints about Great Western
The latest figures come less than a month after the privatised railway companies were sharply criticised by the rail franchising director John O'Brien, who said the train operators were not providing a satisfactory service.

Of the 25 privatised rail companies, only five found the number of complaints about them falling, with the Gatwick Express the best performer, registering a 60% drop in moans.

The unhappiest passengers were to be found on Great Western Trains, which had 1,276 complaints recorded against it. There were also big rises in complaints by people using Cardiff Railway, (up 470%) and Chiltern Railways (up 460%).

Passengers' biggest bugbear was punctuality, which accounted for 22% of all the complaints, a rise of 149% on the first quarter of 1997.

But there were also big rises in the number of complaints about the accuracy of information on the national reservation telephone inquiry lines (up 173%); ticket pricing (up 154%); and overcrowding (up 101%).

[ image: Even Richard Branson's services have attracted more complaints]
Even Richard Branson's services have attracted more complaints
There were also big increases in complaints about delays in dealing with correspondence, the comfort of journeys, Passenger's Charter policy and refunds, information at stations, staff conduct and reliability and cancellations.

The committee's national director Paul Hadley said: "It gives no pleasure to record such a substantial high level of dissatisfaction with the service provided over so much of the rail network again this quarter.

"The extraordinarily high increases in many parts of the country are a matter of huge concern. Using this evidence, we shall be taking up the causes of dissatisfaction with operators on behalf of long-suffering passengers."

Rail complaints by company:

  • Great Western 1,276; +212%
  • Wales and West 725; +274%
  • Connex South Eastern 500 +129%
  • West Coast 429 +88%
  • Cross Country 393 +117%
  • South West Trains 376 -10%
  • Connex South Central 343 +204%
  • West Anglia Great Northern 288 -8%
  • Regional Railways North East 202 +70%
  • Central 198 +133%
  • Great North Eastern (East Coast) 193 +27%
  • North Western 172 -16%
  • Thames 135 +229%
  • ScotRail 130 +83%
  • Silverlink (N. London Railways) 111 +127%
  • Thameslink 111 +127%
  • Great Eastern 60 +50%
  • Cardiff 57 +470%
  • Anglia 44 +5%
  • Midland Main Line 42 +2%
  • LTS (London Tilbury and Southend) 40 +186%
  • Chiltern 28 +460%
  • Merseyrail Electrics 11 -56%
  • Gatwick Express 3 -63%
  • Island Line (Isle of Wight) 0
  • Total 6.071 +94

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