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Scale of Greater Anglia train delays is revealed as New Year fare increase looms

PUBLISHED: 00:01 29 December 2017

Just 0.37% of Greater Anglia services were signficantly delayed in 2016/17, a Which? survey has found. Picture: ARCHANT

Just 0.37% of Greater Anglia services were signficantly delayed in 2016/17, a Which? survey has found. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Greater Anglia, the region’s rail operator, has ranked fifth best out of 14 companies for train delays.

New research by consumer group Which? found 0.37% of passenger journeys on Greater Anglia trains were delayed “significantly” – by between 30 minutes and two hours.

Derek Monnery, chairman of the Essex Rail Users’ Federation, expressed surprise the figure was not higher.

Nationally, passengers lost at least 3.6 million hours due to significantly delayed trains in 2016/17, with Virgin Trains East Coast the worst offender with 3.7% of its services more than 30 minutes late.

Virgin Trains West Coast was second-worst with 2%, while the best performance was by c2c at just 0.2%, according to analysis of Office of Rail and Road (ORR) data from April 2016 to March 2017.

A separate poll of 8,200 UK adults by Which? found two in five commuters claim they were not told of their rights to compensation the last time they were entitled to a payout. This rose to over half (54%) of leisure passengers.

A Greater Anglia spokesman said: “We recognise any delay is inconvenient for customers, which is why we have improved our delay repay compensation scheme, so customers can receive compensation payments in a way most convenient to them. We’re also planning to introduce automatic delay repay.

“We’re working with Network Rail to improve the railway in East Anglia so it is fit for future generations. Last year, 20% of delays over 30 minutes on the Great Eastern Mainline were attributed to Greater Anglia.

“We’re also spending £5million on making our existing trains more reliable, constantly challenging our engineers to come up with new innovations to improve them. We’re spending £1.4billion on new trains which will start to come into service from 2019.”

Which? managing director of public markets, Alex Hayman, said delays are “even more infuriating” when passengers struggle to claim compensation.

Commenting on the national picture he said: “The progress to date is simply not good enough.

“If train companies can’t simplify unnecessarily complex claims systems for delayed customers, then government must press for automatic compensation to be introduced across the industry so that people can get the money they are owed.”

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators and Network Rail, said: “Rail companies are working together to ensure more people arrive on time but when things go wrong it should be easy to claim any compensation due.

“As part of the industry’s long-term plan to improve, more operators are introducing automatic refunds and, in the last five years, the amount of compensation paid out has increased five-fold to £45m a year.”

The ORR said it is expanding its monitoring of delay compensation to better understand the volume of claims for each firm and how quickly they are processed.

The research was released ahead of the 3.4% average fare increase on Tuesday.

Mr Monnery said: “The unreliability of trains is such that a 3.7% rise in train fares is not justifiable.

“They need to get their trains sorted. It is just not good enough. Very old infrastructure plays a huge part as well.”

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