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£50m plan to increase train punctuality

Passengers on a main London to Scotland rail route are still suffering from the poorest train punctuality in the country despite the completion of a £9 billion upgrade project, it was revealed today.

The number of trains running on time on the West Coast Main Line run by the Virgin Rail company did improve last month - rising from 80.8 per cent in May 2008 to 84.6 per cent in May 2009.

But this figure was well below the national average for all the train companies - a figure which rose from 91.7 per cent of trains on time in May 2008 to 93.4 per cent in May 2009.

Robin Gisby, director of operations and customer service at Network Rail (NR) which released today's figures said: "We accept that particular focus is needed to improve performance for Virgin trains where only four out of five services arrive on time.

"Working together with all the train operators on the West Coast route we have embarked upon a £50 million package of improvements aimed at raising train punctuality to acceptable levels."

The massive upgrade of the West Coast line was finished in December last year but problems on the line have continued - to the fury of Virgin.

Last month the Office of Rail Regulation told NR to come up with an improvement plan for the line or else face being in breach of its licensing conditions which could lead to a fine.

NR said today that the May 2009 punctuality figures took the trains-on-time figure for the 12 months ending May 2009 to 90.8 per cent which was the best 12-month performance since records of this kind began in 1992.

Mr Gisby said: "Passengers across the network are reaping the real benefits of a high performing, punctual railway."