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Monday, 18 March, 2002, 18:12 GMT
Train company explains its success
Chiltern train
Chiltern plans to rival the best trains in Europe
The secret of Chiltern Railways' success is a name most equate with failure - Railtrack.

With 90.5% of its trains running on time, Chiltern's performance topped the league of major railway firms.

Much of the credit for this achievement was placed firmly at Railtrack's door.

We've still got a long way to go

Stephen Murphy, Chiltern Railways' General Manager

"The relationship with Railtrack is really strong and we are both very focused on minimising delay," Chiltern General Manager Stephen Murphy said.

"There's no division between us. Day to day, we get on with fixing the rails."

Another key ingredient is money - and lots of it.

In 1996, the firm promised to plough 16m into their service.

Instead, the figure exceeded 60m.

"We've had a history of investment that is consistently more than the committed amount," Mr Murphy said.

Double track

Much of that investment goes towards eliminating stretches of single track.

These create bottle necks, which lead to delays.

Doubling the track eliminates the problem.

When the company began operations in 1994, it had more than 20 miles of single track.

Today Chiltern is eight miles and five months away from eliminating stretches of single track altogether.
Chiltern passengers board a train
More than 90% of Chiltern trains run on time

The firm also plans to put 22m into depots over the next year or two.

"New and well-maintained rolling stock is the best way to avoid delays," Mr Murphy said.

In spite of all this, the firm has yet to reach its target of 93.75%.

That number would mean that 15 out of every 16 trains ran on time.

"Once we get to that level we'll be on a par with the best trains in Europe," Mr Murphy said.

"We've still got a long way to go."

See also:

18 Feb 02 | England
Train firm pledges 371m revamp
14 Jan 02 | UK
Your train tip-offs
13 Dec 01 | UK
Rail services worsening
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