Trains running later in East Anglia
RAIL services have worsened on East Anglia's main commuter line in and out of London with one in five trains running late, official figures reveal.Rail watchdogs have described the levels of performance on the Norwich to London line as unacceptable, and say passengers are entitled to demand more reliability.
RAIL services have worsened on East Anglia's main commuter line in and out of London with one in five trains running late, official figures reveal.
Rail watchdogs have described the levels of performance on the Norwich to London line as unacceptable, and say passengers are entitled to demand more reliability.
But train operators in the region blame repairs by Railtrack. They also argue times are getting better.
Nationwide, the new figures show long-suffering rail passengers had to contend with worsening services in the last part of 2001. Transport Secretary Stephen Byers has admitted the figures, from the Strategic Rail Authority, "painted a grim picture".
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They show Anglia Railways' inter-city services – which stop at the likes of Ipswich, Stowmarket, Manningtree and Colchester – arrived at 73.7per cent of destinations on time between October and December last year. They were the best figures in the country for a long-distance operator.
But this had still fallen from 77.9pc for the period July to September 2001.
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Meanwhile, 80.5pc of First Great Eastern trains arrived on time during October and December, compared to 85.9pc between July and September.
John Brodribb, a member of the region's Rail Users Consultative Committee, said rail operators all too often used Railtrack and its repair programme as an excuse for poor performance.
Anglia Railways spokesman Peter Meades said the delays had been caused by the backlog of non- essential repairs being carried out now that Railtrack's major improvements are complete.
He said: "We are certainly seeing improvement already as far as performance figures are concerned."
Mr Meades added recent performance figures had shown the service arrived at about 89pc of its destinations on time.
The SRA figures showed Anglia Railways' local services – as opposed to inter-city – reached 83.6pc of destinations on time between October and December compared to 85.5pc during July and September.
First Great Eastern was the third highest performing train operator during October and December in London and the South East.
Nationwide, only 71.2pc of trains ran on time in the October-December 2001 period, compared with 79pc on time in the previous three months, according to the statistics.
Meanwhile, Mr Byers said: "It is clear that the performance last autumn was simply not good enough. These figures paint a grim picture of delays and poor performance.'
He went on: "It is vital that the rail industry, working with the Government, acts with determination to drive up punctuality and improve reliability."