Letter: On the wrong lines
Monday 24 May 1999
Sir: Once again we have a set of league tables, this time of the performance of train operators ("Railways becoming even less reliable", 19 May), which take scant regard of the circumstances under which they operate.
It is no great surprise to find Island Line and ScotRail at the top of the list. These operators do not have to compete for line space on our overcrowded rail network.
The longer the route through the crowded English rail network, the more likelihood of delays. It is therefore perhaps almost inevitable that the Cross Country service should perform comparatively badly in this respect. The routes are long, traverse many of the busiest stretches of the rail network and require access to a considerable number of station platforms.Many of the delays are caused by factors outside the operator's control.
As a fairly regular passenger on Virgin Cross Country, I have found that my train has been delayed on a number of occasions. With the exception of a faulty locomotive, all the delays were caused by problems on the track (landslides, derailments, no space on the next section of track).
Of course there is room for improvement, but anyone who travelled on the Cross Country route before Virgin took over the franchise will know the extent of the improvement. It was a dirty, dilapidated service and it was always late.
It is the rail network itself which is in most need of radical attention.
Haywards Heath, West Sussex
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