Watchdog attacks rail firms for misleading public

The railway passenger watchdog has attacked train companies over "blatant fiddling on punctuality" .

In a talk to rail professionals, David Bertram, the chairman of the Central Rail Users' Consultative Committee, said that companies were inserting an extra 10 minutes before the final stop in a train's journey in order to avoid compensating customers for late arrivals.

He told the conference on `The New Railway': "To measure the punctuality of a train from Edinburgh by its arrival time in Penzance, when it may have been late en route and missed lots of connections, is wrong." A spokesman for the committee also pointed out that it was difficult to see why the journey from Peterborough to the capital took up to 10 minutes longer than services running in the other direction.

Payments to travellers are made by train companies under the Passenger Charter, which was introduced in 1992.

Companies denied they were deliberately misleading passengers. A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies, which represents all 25 passenger services, said: "It is necessary to have some sort of contingency plans for rail journeys especially into London, which is frequently congested." Randeep Ramesh