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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 11:41 GMT
Rail services worsening
Train on a railway line
Passenger groups say figures are worrying
Poor punctuality and increased complaints have been highlighted in performance figures on the state of the railways before Railtrack went into administration.

Figures from the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) for April-October 2001 showed the train companies had to pay poor performance penalties totalling 41.2m, compared with 6.2m in the same period last year.

Most passengers think Railtrack failed the railway

Stephen Joseph, Transport 2000
Of the 25 passenger train companies, just two had improved train punctuality.

For the 12 months ending 13 October 2001, the companies paid penalties of 136m compared with just 17.8m for the year ending 14 October 2000.

Meanwhile, rail passenger groups are preparing to perform a mock funeral procession complete with New Orleans jazz band, mourners and coffin to "mark the demise of Railtrack" and voice their concerns.

They are planning to meet Transport Secretary Stephen Byers to urge him not to replace Railtrack with another private company.

Mr Byers' decision to take the company into administration in October has caused a row involving shareholders, executives and his political opponents.

Complaints rife

SRA chief executive Mike Grant said the performance results showed there was still "much work to be done to recover the ground lost since Hatfield".

Twenty one rail companies performed worse than last year.

The figures also showed that just six train companies had fewer complaints than the previous April-October period.

Transport minister John Spellar said the performance figures ended the myth that rail performance was improving before Railtrack was taken into administration in October.

"Passengers deserve better, and we are determined to ensure that we put in place a structure for the railways that puts the interests of all customers - passengers and freight - first."

Stephen Joseph from the campaign group, Transport 2000, said the voice of the passengers had been missing from the whole Railtrack affair.

"In practice most passengers think Railtrack failed the railway, that it didn't work, that it wasn't running a successful railway and we want to say that," he said.

At the mock funeral, the group will also read out a last will and testament of the private railway, promising a modern, accountable, safe and reliable railway for the future.

New railway system

Representatives from rail user groups will then meet Mr Byers to urge him to press ahead with his plan for a not-for-profit organisation to replace Railtrack.

Mr Joseph said the group would also like to see the UK follow the example of European countries who have restructured their railways to give more power to regional authorities.

Richard Dyer, assistant transport campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "The demise of Railtrack presents the government with the chance to create a railway system fit for the 21st Century."

Strategic Rail Authority figures for punctuality April to October 2001

(change on same period last year in brackets)

  • Anglia (main line): 76.4% (-8%)
  • Anglia (local): 87.0% (- 3%)
  • Arriva Trains Merseyside: 85.8% (no change)
  • Arriva Trains Northern: 75.2% (-11%)
  • c2c: 81.5% (-7%)
  • Cardiff Railway: 87.1% (-4%)
  • Central Trains: 75.7% (-8%)
  • Chiltern Railways: 88.8% (+1%)
  • Connex South Eastern: 83.9% (no change)
  • Virgin CrossCountry: 59.1% (-17%)
  • Gatwick Express: 81.0% (-6%)
  • Great Eastern: 84.3% (-7%)
  • GNER: 71.4% (-9%)
  • Great Western: 68.8% (-16%)
  • Island Line: 96.3% (+2%)
  • Midland Main Line: 74.2% (-9%)
  • North Western Trains: 78.7% (-8%)
  • ScotRail: 84.4% (-8%)
  • Silverlink: 82.4% (-2%)
  • South Central: 80.4% (-6%)
  • South West Trains: 73.6% (-11%)
  • Thames Trains: 79.6% (-9%)
  • Thameslink: 74.7% (-10%)
  • Wales & West: 78.6% (-9%)
  • West Anglia Great Northern: 78.6% (-12%)
  • Virgin West Coast: 66.1% (-13%)

    The BBC's Simon Montague
    "Delays have doubled since administration"
    See also:

    07 Dec 01 | Business
    New funds for rail services
    29 Nov 01 | Business
    Ford UK boss tipped for Railtrack
    25 Nov 01 | Business
    More delays at Railtrack
    08 Dec 01 | Business
    Railtrack bosses 'to step down'
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