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The BBC's Simon Montague
"There are still many other speed restrictions around the country"
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The BBC's Arabella Schnadhorst
"Things are not likely to improve"
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Friday, 10 November, 2000, 08:39 GMT
Hatfield track is re-opened
Hatfield rail crash scene
Four people died in the Hatfield rail crash
The railway line involved in the Hatfield crash which killed four people in October has re-opened after passing a safety test.

The stretch of the East Coast mainline was checked by a safety train and given the all-clear by inspectors, Railtrack has said.

But GNER says the move will make little difference to journey times.

There are still 100 speed restrictions on the East Coast main line, and services north of Doncaster are affected by flooding.

Punctuality problem

It closed after the crash on 5 October when the passenger train derailed at almost 115mph. Thirty-five people were injured.

The line had not been expected to re-open until Monday but repair work was finished four days ahead of schedule.

But official figures have revealed that an increasing number of trains across the rail network were running late even before services were hit by the current speed restrictions and flooding.

Gerald Corbett
Gerald Corbett: Meeting with Tony Blair
Great North Eastern Railway (GNER), which operates the East Coast mainline between London and Scotland was found to be the worst offender.

Of the 25 passenger train companies, 22 had poorer punctuality records between 23 July and 14 October this year than during the same period in 1999, according to the statistics from the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority.

Trains run by GNER were the least likely to arrive on time, with 11% fewer trains on time compared with the same period in 1999.

Prime Minister Tony Blair met Railtrack chief executive Gerald Corbett and other company executives at Downing Street on Thursday afternoon.

Track replacement needed

Mr Corbett has pledged to "blitz" the country's rail network in a bid to get it back to normal before Christmas.

But he said only one-sixth of the 300 miles of track had been replaced since Hatfield, with 250 miles still needing to be changed.

Mr Blair ordered rail chiefs to produce a new timetable and tell passengers what services will be running over the festive season within one week.

But not all rail firms fared badly.

The three companies that improved punctuality in the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority report were Great Western with a 1% rise in the number of its trains running on time, Cardiff Railway with a 4% increase, and Gatwick Express with 2%.

Virgin CrossCountry and North Western Trains both ran 9% fewer punctual trains.

Anglia InterCity, Northern Spirit and Virgin West Coast saw a drop of 8%.

The percentages of punctual trains are shown below:

percentage of punctual trains
percentage of punctual trains
percentage of punctual trains

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13 Jul 00 | UK
More trains running late
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