Reliability improves on the rails

RAIL services from East Anglia to London are the most reliable in the south east of England according to new government figures.And the reliability of trains is now better than at any time since the Hatfield rail disaster in October 2000 which caused chaos in the industry.

RAIL services from East Anglia to London are the most reliable in the south east of England according to new government figures.

And the reliability of trains is now better than at any time since the Hatfield rail disaster in October 2000 which caused chaos in the industry.

Ironically the figures are published the day after a series of nightmares on the tracks with passengers being stranded in Essex and other rail users being given free champagne to prevent dehydration.

Police, fire crews and paramedics were drafted in to treat passengers after six trains were left stranded between Huntingdon and Peterborough Stations yesterday.

Up to 300 passengers were trapped for two hours in one train, which came to a halt in Sawtry.

Dozens fainted in the heat, with temperatures rising as high as 115F.

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Cambridgeshire Police helicopter flew in water and medical aid.

A Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said eight passengers had been taken to hospital suffering from heat-related injuries.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said: "What we understand is that they were in there for a while in carriages where you cannot open the windows.

"People were pretty hot and bothered and some had had breathing difficulties.''

Passenger Simon Walker said passengers "rebelled'' after conditions got "unbearable'' in the train.

"There are some people suffering quite badly,'' he said.

"They ran out of water and in the end they were giving away everything free. I've seen people walking around with bottles of champagne just to get some liquid into them.''

Today's statistics will show that 86 per cent of trains ran on time in January-March 2005.

Official statistics were released today by the Strategic Rail Authority.

But figures obtained earlier this week by the Press Association showed that the 10 London and south-east England train companies ran 88pc of trains on time in the January-March 2005 period.

Almost 91pc of 'one' services ran on time during the period - bettered only by c2c services which operate between London and Southend in Essex.