More rail users voice complaints

COMPLAINTS about privatised railways have risen by 82 per cent in a year, with mounting passenger disquiet about most aspects of services.

Greatest dissatisfaction has been over punctuality, with an increase of 145 per cent, while complaints about the telephone service rose by 152 per cent. There were also more complaints about timetabling, comfort, safety and security.

In the 12 months to June l998, punctuality worsened on 48 of the 64 routes. A total of 25 routes failed to meet Passenger Charter punctuality targets.

Complaints from passengers in the Midlands, Scotland and western England doubled. Silverlink's North London routes had the worst reliability, with 31 of every 1,000 trains cancelled.

The rise in complaints is expected to strengthen Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's efforts to set up a strategic Rail Authority with more powers over the industry.