Rail bosses insist trains improving

RAIL chiefs in East Anglia today insisted their services were improving – despite a series of setbacks and a call for them to be stripped of the rail franchise.

RAIL chiefs in East Anglia today insisted their services were improving – despite a series of setbacks and a call for them to be stripped of the rail franchise.

A series of problems on the main line to London over the last 10 days has left passengers feeling angry.

But bosses at rail operators 'one' say most of these have been beyond their control and they should not disguise the fact that overall performance is improving.

Over the last ten days passengers have suffered:

Two days of disruption after overhead wires were brought down between Stratford and Liverpool Street at the start of last week.

Delays of up to an hour on Monday after a freight train broke down near Witham in Essex.

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Trains being cancelled for two hours on Tuesday after a man was killed after he stepped in front of a train at Marks Tey station in Essex.

A train cancelled after it broke down at Ipswich station on Wednesday.

The problems came as passengers from Manningtree stepped up a campaign to improve services – and prompted South Suffolk MP and Conservative transport spokesman Tim Yeo to call for 'one' to be warned it could lose its franchise.

Mr Yeo said he received about t10en complaints every day about 'one,' with the main problem being punctuality, followed by the number of people having to stand.

He added it was possible to sack a franchise, citing the case of Connex, which served the South-East and had its franchise terminated, as a precedent.

Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs at 'one,' said the timetable had to fairly balance the needs of users along the entire line.

He admitted there were teething problems in the first weeks of the timetable, but added: "Since then the timetable, in terms of performance, has been much better and January was manifestly the best ever recorded for that time of year. "We would acknowledge there have been a few more delays over the past two to three weeks, although it was nothing like we had in the first few weeks of the timetable. It was more disruptive than we would have liked, but not worse than in previous years."

The company is currently taking delivery of fresh carriages which are being transferred from Virgin services on the West Coast main line between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow.

They are all to be refurbished and improved for 'one' services with the first new-look trains due to roll out in the summer.

By the summer of 2006 all the trains should have had the makeover.

Peter Meades from 'one' said the new trains, combined with the newer Class 90 electric locomotives which took over all services by the end of last year, should make the services more reliable.

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