Transport: Comfort gripes soaring

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The Independent Online
Poor punctuality, reliability and information are rail passengers' biggest bugbears, according to latest complaint figures published yesterday.

Moans about overcrowding and comfort on trains have also soared, statistics from watchdog body the Central Rail Users' Consultative Committee showed.

The committee was giving more details following its announcement earlier this week that passenger complaints had risen to an all-time high in the July-September 1997 period.

Based on complaints it had received, the committee's statistics for July- September 1997 showed that;

l Complaints totalled 4,560 - a 96.1 per cent rise on the July-September 1996 figure;

l The highest number of complaints involved punctuality of trains;

l Moans about reliability and cancellations soared 226 per cent, while complaints about the national rail inquiry service rose 322 per cent;

l Complaints about the travelling environment and comfort on journeys rose by 128 per cent, while moans about information at stations was up 63 per cent;

l Complaints in dealing with correspondence and the quality of letters received from train operators soared 266 per cent.

The committee has not broken down the complaints into individual train companies. But the pressure group Save Our Railways revealed yesterday that complaints received by the two rail watchdog bodies covering South- east England totalled 2,551 for the period April-September 1997.

Save Our Railways' campaign director, Jonathan Bray, said that this compared with 2,474 received by the London Regional Passengers' Committee and the Rail Users' Consultative Committee for Southern England in the whole of the 1995-96 last year of British Rail-run services.

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