Punctuality of train operators worse than last year

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The Independent Online

Train punctuality plummeted this summer, according to official figures published yesterday.

Train punctuality plummeted this summer, according to official figures published yesterday.

The performance of 19 out of the 25 passenger train companies was worse than last year with just three improving, the statistics from the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) showed.

One of the worst performers was Connex South Eastern, which yesterday disclosed that it might have to revise its timetable. The other two bad performers were Anglia and Merseyrail Electrics. At all three, the proportion of late trains went up by 6 per cent.

The news came after the Rail Passenger Council's report on Thursday declared that much of the system had become less efficient since privatisation.

According to the SRA, three companies where punctuality improved were Cardiff Railway, up by 7 per cent; Gatwick Express, up 3 per cent; and Island Line, up 1 per cent.

The data shows a continuing downward trend in punctuality in contrast to reliability figures - the number of scheduled trains that actually run - which have generally improved.

The authority, which unusually issued yesterday's figures without comment, is inviting bids for the renewed franchises on the train passenger routes. Incumbent operators will find the authority taking their poor punctuality records into account over bids.

Connex South Eastern said its main difficulties were caused by Strood tunnel in north Kent, which was closed for engineering work, and train wheel bearings.

Anglia cited problems with track and signalling, rolling stock reliability and incidents such as lineside fires and trespass. A spokesman said that while the authority's "snapshot" figures showed only 82.9 per cent of trains ran on time, the average for the past 12 months was 89.8 per cent. Merseyrail Electrics conceded that it needed to do better.