The National Network: Which Companies Are Getting There And Which Are Showing The Strain?

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Runs fast trains to East Anglia. Punctuality fell in all seven route groups with one triggering discounts under the Passengers' Charter. Recently raised the standards in its charter, offering better compensation and higher service standards.

t Parent: GB Railways; route miles: 348; passenger journeys: 5.99 million

Serving south Welsh valleys. A bad offender in the recent figures, with late-running rising from 6 per cent to almost 13 per cent, triggering discounts, while reliability slipped. Recent heavy flooding is likely to lead to a worsening in figures.

t Parent: Prism; route miles: 86; passenger journeys: 6.1 million

Sprawling West Midlands commuter network. Last week revived the "leaves on the line" story, blaming the autumnal leaf fall for recent problems. Most recent figures show improving timekeeping and reliability.

t Parent: National Express; route miles: 1,495; passenger journeys: 32.4m

Commuter services to London from northern Home Counties. Ordered to give back pounds 2.5m to regular passengers after slump in performance. Company claimed it was due to engineering problems. Thinking of cutting a tenth of peak timetable

t Parent: M40 Trains; route miles: 163; passenger journeys: 8.8 million

Commuter services to Surrey and to Sussex Coast. Was refused permission to extend franchise to 15 years in exchange for phasing out ageing slam door stock - to the delight of passenger groups. Improved performance across all route groups.

t Parent: Generale des Eaux; route miles: 481; passenger journeys: 117.2 million

Commuter services to Kent and Sussex. New Networker trains have caused most of its problems. Under franchise commitment to phase out all slam-door stock. Its Kent Link group is the weakest, and triggered discounts for delays.

t Parent: Generale des Eaux; route miles: 444; passenger journeys: 93 million

Spawling network of InterCity trains. Liable to delays at many pinch points on the network. Also blames weather conditions. Inherited the majority of the older InterCity stock on privatisation. Latest performance triggered passenger discounts.

t Parent: Virgin; route miles: 1,657; Passenger journeys: 12.5 million

Ferries business travellers and holidaymakers between London and the airport. Cynics say anyone could run this route well. Four trains in 1,000 are cancelled, and punctuality is improving. Has ordered new trains.

t Parent: National Express; route miles: 27; Passenger journeys: 3.7 million

Runs commuter services to Essex and Suffolk. Disastrous performance last winter - at one stage, only 60 per cent of its services ran to schedule. One in ten trains are late and five trains in 1,000 are cancelled.

t Parent: FirstGroup; route miles: 164; passenger journeys: 51.6 million

Inherited best trains and most recently upgraded lines. Improved reliability recently but one in 10 trains are late. Has put in a bid to have its franchise extended in exchange for investment including 12 new tilting trains.

t Parent: Sea Containers; route miles: 920; passenger journeys: 13.7 million

Earned tag of Late Western because of initial problems. Blamed level of maintenance - the contractor, Amey, eventually resigned. More than 16 per cent of trains run late and reliability is falling. Has paid out pounds 500,000 under the incentive regime.

t Parent: FirstGroup; route miles: 850; passenger journeys: 16.4 million

Lost its sobriquet of the Misery Line after investment and effort by owners. Recently agreed to a pounds 16m package of benefits to customers in exchange for being allowed to keep the hated slam-door trains running for three extra years.

t Parent: Prism; route miles: 80.25; passenger journeys: 23.7 million

Has been hit by a series of walk-outs by drivers. Latest figures showed the firm was almost the only operator to have improved reliability and punctuality across all routes. Praised by the franchising director for improving performance.

t Parent: MTL; route miles: 75; passenger journeys: 23 million

Uses InterCity high-speed trains on a single route to Leeds through the East Midlands. Reliability and punctuality have remained stable at levels exceeding those laid down in the Passengers Charter standard.

t Parent: National Express; route miles: 307; passenger journeys: 6.3 million

Latest figures showed that three of its eight groups were so bad they triggered passenger discounts. One route group saw delays increase from 5 per cent to 13 per cent. Recently reprimanded by the franchising director.

t Parent: FirstGroup; route miles: 1,124; passenger journeys: 27 million

The rebranded Regional Railways North Eastern. Suffered acute shortage of drivers that prompted cancellations in the early days. Recent figures show an indifferent performance with poor reliability and punctuality on many of its route groups.

t Parent: MTL; route miles: 1,277; Passenger journeys: 27 million

Its sleeper service is the only route in the UK to claim 100 per cent reliability. Overall, reliability is up on all its routes, while punctuality is above Charter standards. Praised by the franchising director.

t Parent: National Express; route miles: 1,885; Passenger journeys: 56.7 million

Runs commuter trains from Midlands to London. Suffered problems in last few weeks, but blames Railtrack. Is worried growth will be stunted by lack of capacity if Virgin takes the lion's share of routes on the upgraded West Coast main line.

t Parent: National Express; route miles: 200; Passenger journeys: 30.7 million

Narrowly avoided a pounds 1m fine for cancelling services after it made too many drivers redundant. Latest punctuality figures brought it perilously close to passenger discounts although reliability has improved sharply.

t Parent: Stagecoach (which also runs eight-mile line on the Isle of Wight); route miles: 584; passenger journeys: 118.2 million

Punctuality plunged so badly this year that it was fined pounds 800,000. Latest figures showed delays increased from 8 per cent to more than 15 per cent, triggering discounts for passengers. Blames delays on Railtrack.

t Parent: Go-Ahead; route miles: 363; Passenger journeys: 28.5 million

Led the attack against Railtrack in the row over who is to blame for current problems throughout the country. Has a high level of punctuality and reliability on the service that runs through London from Bedford to Brighton.

t Parent: Go-Ahead; route miles: 141; passenger journeys: 30.2 million

Immense network that links Penzance, Brighton, Birmingham and Fishguard. Performance varies widely across the network with three groups triggering discounts in the latest figures. One group runs 16 per cent of its trains late.

t Parent: Prism; route miles: 1,568; passenger journeys: 13.6 million

Runs services from East Anglia to London. Cut the price of annual tickets by 25 per cent to win Peterborough passengers from GNER, its InterCity rival. Recent figures show performance is broadly on the increase.

t Parent: Prism; route miles: 257; passenger journeys: 52.8 million

Most hated railway, according to complaint figures. At one point half of all trains from London to Scotland were late. Has since improved to fewer than 15 per cent. New 140mph tilting trains will cut journey time to Glasgow by 90 minutes by 2005.

t Parent: Virgin; route miles: 676; Passenger journeys: 14.99 million