C2C runs the most punctual trains
Nine out of 10 trains ran on time over the last year - the highest proportion since records began in 1992, Network Rail has said.
A total of 90.6% of trains were on time in the year to March 2009, and April saw a monthly record of 93.5%.
In 2002, when Network Rail took over responsibility for rail infrastructure, punctuality was less than 79%.
The TSSA union called the figures "spin", saying they had been better under a nationalised rail service.
According to Network Rail, the best performing train company was C2C, operating on the London to Tilbury and Southend lines, which ran 95.3% of its trains on time.
Chiltern and Merseyrail also reached the 95% mark.
They do not begin to compare with the old British Rail figures before privatisation in 1996
Gerry Doherty, TSSA leader
Virgin Trains and London Midland performed worse in 2008/9 than in the previous year due to disruption caused by the West Coast Main Line upgrade.
Only eight out of 10 Virgin trains were punctual in 2008/9, compared with 86.2% the previous year.
London Midland slipped from 88.9% to 86.5%.
'Even higher levels'
A train is considered to have arrived on time if it reaches its destination within five minutes of the timetabled arrival time for commuter services and within 10 minutes for long-distance services.
Network Rail said this measure was used throughout Europe.
Network Rail's operations and customer service director, Robin Gisby, said passengers were experiencing the most punctual train service ever provided on Britain's railways.
"But we are far from complacent and realise that passengers still experience some delays, albeit less often than in times past.
c2c Rail - 95.3%
Chiltern - 95.2%
Merseyrail - 95%
Arriva Trains Wales - 93.1%
South West Trains - 93.1%
London Overground - 92.3%
First Capital Connect - 91.1%
First Scotrail - 90.6%
National Express East Anglia - 90.5%
First Great Western - 90.5%
First Transpennine Express - 90.3%
CrossCountry - 90.1%
Southeastern - 90%
Northern Rail - 89.8%
Southern - 89.5%
East Midlands Trains - 89.3%
National Express East Coast - 86.9%
London Midland - 86.5%
Virgin Trains - 80%
"Our focus in the years ahead will be to drive performance to even higher levels with particular attention given to reducing the number of very late services."
Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers said: "Passengers will welcome today's news of improvements to punctuality.
"However, Network Rail still has a long way to go. While punctuality has improved, we need to see action taken to improve capacity and give rail passengers better value for money."
Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker said: "Any improvement in punctuality is to be welcomed but passengers mustn't be hoodwinked by these results.
"It's not good enough to simply record that half a million trains were within five minutes of their schedule. On time should mean on time."
The Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) said the achievement was significant as it was running one million more timetabled trains last year than British Rail did just before privatisation.
Alec McTavish, Atoc's director of policy and operations, said the priority now was to narrow the differences in performance across different services.
Gerry Doherty, leader of TSSA, said: "These figures are just spin and poppycock.
"They do not begin to compare with the old British Rail (BR) figures before privatisation in 1996," he added.
"The old InterCity services regularly reported punctuality figures of 92% and the biggest part of BR, Southern, regularly reported figures of 95% during the early 1990s."
Ashwin Kumar, director of the transport users watchdog, Passenger Focus, said one in 10 trains runs with delays, meaning there was still room for improvement.
He added that the industry must get better at providing passengers with information and telling passengers about the compensation owed.