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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 March, 2005, 14:34 GMT
One in five trains still delayed
Most rail firms have improved their punctuality, figures show
Train punctuality improved last autumn but one in five services was still late, officials figures show.

Overall, 80.3% of trains ran on time from October to December 2004 - a 3.9% improvement on autumn 2003, but short of 1990s punctuality highs of 90%.

Nineteen of the 24 train operating firms showed an improvement, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) said.

The Rail Passengers Council welcomed the "sustained period of improvement" as "undoubtedly a good thing".

Complaints down

Virgin West Coast had the poorest performance, with 66.4% of trains on time - down 8.1% from 2003.

Apart from the tiny Isle of Wight company Island Line, which achieved 98.2% punctuality, the best performing operator was Merseyrail, with 93.7% on time.

Passengers on the West Coast Mainline have suffered and are still suffering real disruption at a time when prices have been rising above inflation
Rail Passengers Council

An SRA passenger survey found customer satisfaction levels at their best since spring 2000, with 76% of passengers satisfied or very satisfied with their overall journey - up 3% on autumn 2003.

Over the same period complaints per 100,000 journeys fell by a fifth.

SRA chairman David Quarmby said: "This is the second successive year of significantly improved performance during the very difficult autumn quarter.
Percentage of trains on time
First Great Western 75.7 (+4.1%)
GNER 75.8 ( +2.3%)
One (inter-city) 84.1 ( +10.6%)
Midland Mainline 89.8 (+21.3%)
Virgin Crosscountry 73.1 (+3.5%
Virgin West Coast 66.4 (-8.1%)
C2C 92.4 (+8.8%)
Chiltern Railways 91.3 (-0.3)
First Great Western Link 80.3 (+3.6%)
One (local) 86.9 (NA)
Silverlink 83.3 (+5.6%)
South Eastern Trains 80.5% (+6.3%)
South West Trains 77 (+7.1%)
Southern 78.3 (+3.7%)
Thameslink 84.7 (+13.4%)
West Anglia Great Northern 86.6 (+6.8%)
Arriva Trains Northern 79.1 (+4.2%)
Arriva Trains Wales 76.7 (-0.7%)
Central Trains 67.2 (-0.6%)
First North Western 82 (+9.6%)
Gatwick Express 83.4 (+4.8%)
Island Line 98.2 (+2.6%)
Merseyrail 93.7 (+2%)
Northern Rail 82.3 (NA)
First Scotrail 79.8 (-1.9%
Transpennine Express 68 (NA)
Wessex Trains 83.1 (+3.5%)

"It shows that the foundations laid by the industry for a better railway are sound and are being built upon both by Network Rail and the train operating companies.

"Passengers and freight customers will expect and demand further improvement - and so do we."

Network Rail said it had cut delays for which it was responsible by 16.25% in the October-December 2004 period and that delays had continued falling into 2005.

Pete Biggs of the Rail Passengers Council said: "Network Rail have made some huge leaps forward in terms of the delays they are responsible for and hopefully they will continue that."

But he said the council was unhappy with the performance of the West Coast Mainline.

He said: "Passengers on the West Coast Mainline have suffered and are still suffering real disruption at a time when prices have been rising above inflation.

"They were promised improvements to the service by autumn last year but this doesn't seem to have happened.

"It's clear there's a problem with the tracks and trains on that line and we're calling for Network Rail and Virgin to address these issues as soon as they can."

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