Train punctuality shows no improvement

THE punctuality of trains running on the Essex and Suffolk rail network has shown no improvement in the last 12 months.Despite increases in fare prices, the National Express East Anglia service recorded an 88.

Elliot Furniss

THE punctuality of trains running on the Essex and Suffolk rail network has shown no improvement in the last 12 months.

Despite increases in fare prices, the National Express East Anglia service recorded an 88.5% reliability rate for October to December last year - identical to the same period in 2007.

The statistics were published yesterday by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) and showed that while timekeeping had remained consistent, and above the national rate of 87.9%, the number of complaints made to the operator had gone down slightly.

A spokesman for National Express East Anglia, still known as One when the 2007 figures were collected, said there was room for improvement.

He said: “We absolutely recognise that there is a lot of work for us to do and we're not at the level we want to be at yet.”

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He said the company was more focussed on looking at its annual punctuality performance, which achieved its 90% target for 2008.

Network Rail, which owns and maintains the nation's railway infrastructure, is currently conducting major improvements to the region's lines.

This has resulted in frequent weekend rail replacement services, which are set to continue for much of the year.

The ORR figures also showed a rise in the number of complaints made to rail providers across the UK during the autumn.

The national level of complaints went up from 50 to 54 per 100,000 passenger journeys - an increase of 7.2%.

But the records revealed that the volume of complaints made to National Express East Anglia during the same period was down by 0.6%.

David Bigg, chairman of the Witham and Braintree Rail Users' Association, which monitors performance on the network, said passengers were prepared to endure the continued weekend rail replacements and delays if it meant services would improve in the next year.

He said: “We are enduring no train services at weekends for the most part of this year. We hope there will be massive gains and that in 2010 we will see real improvements.

“We have got one of the most intensively-used railways in the country and our line is full.”

The association keeps its own extensive records of departure and arrival times and Mr Bigg said its figures for October to December last year were in line with those obtained by the ORR.