Commuters' fury at train service

By James HoreANGRY rail passengers are so upset with services provided from East Anglia that they have challenged train bosses to join them on their daily journey.

By James Hore

ANGRY rail passengers are so upset with services provided from East Anglia that they have challenged train bosses to join them on their daily journey.

The commuters have sent a letter to the managing director of train company One with a long list of problems they have experienced since the introduction of a new timetable earlier this month.

Stephen Wooldridge, who travels from Manningtree to London, told One boss Tim Clarke that the delays experienced during the first week of the new schedule had added up to more than two hours.

The frustrated commuter listed all the problems caused by the changes before calling on representatives from the company to join passengers on their journey.

"It is apparent to us that none of your senior management team or indeed directors have travelled on these busy commuter trains to witness first hand the declining levels of service being offered," he said..

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"I extend an open invitation for any of them to join us either on the 6.33am from Manningtree or 5.30pm from Liverpool Street so we can share the experience and discuss what actions are being taken to make improvements. We will even buy the coffee in the station buffet for them."

The commuters have also questioned the safety of the new rolling stock, which has just been redistributed from the West Coast mainline.

Mr Wooldridge asked Mr Clarke: "Would you be prepared to commit to positively no ticket price increases until your service reaches an acceptable level of punctuality and reliability instead of imposing above inflation price increases of 7.5%, why do you think that you deserve this increase? If you had any form of competition, you couldn't get away with it."

Neil Skinner, of the Manningtree Rail Users' Association, has also written to One outlining a number of complaints made by commuters.

"We are happy to defend the railways where appropriate. However, the recent dramatic downturn in the service provided by One has led to a significant increase in the reporting of problems facing travellers from this area and further afield," he said.

"We are not picking out One for particular attention, but are just reporting facts as they are. The service being provided by One is simply unacceptable."

A spokesman for One said there had been an unusual set of circumstances triggering the problems when the new timetable was introduced.

"In terms of the timetable, it is safe and it is working. We had a number of issues in the first two weeks of the timetable that were outside our control," he added.

"First of all there was a an act of wanton vandalism when a sandbag was thrown onto our locomotive, which damaged it and led to more than two hours of delays.

"In addition, two of the class-170 diesels have been out of traffic because they have been involved in fatalities."

The spokesman said it would be better to judge the new service in three or four weeks' time to see how the performance was and whether it suited people's travel patterns.

"Most of our staff travel by train to work themselves so we are experiencing the service day in and day out," he added.

The spokesman said no-one from the company had promised new stock would be introduced and added the latest carriages, which arrived from the West Coast line, were to be refurbished next year.

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