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Rail punctuality drops to worst level in a decade

Punctuality on Britain's rail network has reached its lowest point in over a decade.

More than one in 10 (12.3%) trains failed to reach their destinations on time last year, according to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

This is the worst performance for a 12-month period since the year ending September 2006, when the figure reached 12.5%.

Lianna Etkind, of the Campaign for Better Transport, claimed the figures show that train firms are "still delivering a very lacklustre service" despite "sky-high prices".

Passengers using Govia Thameslink Railway - which owns embattled operator Southern - suffered the most, with more than a quarter (25.4%) of services not arriving on time.

On Wednesday the Rail, Maritime and Transport union announced that its members on Southern will walk out for 24 hours on February 22, threatening fresh misery for passengers in the row over the role of conductors.

The rail industry counts t rains as being on time if they arrive at their terminating stations within five minutes of their schedule for commuter services and within 10 minutes for long distance routes.

Separate figures show 3.8% of trains across Britain were cancelled or at least half an hour late last year, the highest moving annual average since September 2003.

Ms Etkind told the Press Association: " It's time that the Government got a grip of the situation and starts to give passengers what they want: an affordable and reliable rail service.

"They should begin by ensuring that rail contracts give stronger incentives for punctuality, reliability and passenger service, as has successfully happened on London Overground and Merseyrail, and channel investment into those worn-out parts of the network which cause delays."

The latest bi-annual National Rail Passenger Survey by Transport Focus in autumn last year revealed that just 81% of passengers are satisfied with Britain's railways, a figure which has not been lower since spring 2007.

Rail fares increased by an average of 2.3% last month, sparking protests at railway stations.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: " At the moment, on some parts of the railway passengers are not getting the service they expect but on other parts punctuality is at a record high.

"In London and the South East a combination of congestion on the network, prolonged strike action and disruption while major upgrades take place is hitting punctuality.

"Across the railway, train operators and Network Rail are working together every day to deliver more reliable and safe services for passengers."


From Belfast Telegraph