67% of trains ran on time

Preston and Leyland Citizen: When using Network Rail's 'real' delay figures, 67% of trains were found to have run on time in the last year When using Network Rail's 'real' delay figures, 67% of trains were found to have run on time in the last year

Some rail passengers have had to contend with more than half their trains running late in the last year.

Yet, UK train passengers are the most satisfied in Europe, according to an EC survey covering 26,000 travellers.

The poll comes after Network Rail published the latest "real" delay figures for UK train companies for the 12 months ending December 7 2013.

Targets which NR have to meet are judged on the public performance measure (PPM) which deems a short-distance train is on time as long as it is no more than four minutes 59 seconds late, while the long-distance PPM is nine minutes 59 seconds.

NR also publishes "real" delay figures which are known as "right time" statistics. Under this far-stricter measure, trains must arrive no more than 59 seconds late to be deemed to be on time.

Under this right-time criteria, 67.0% of trains for the 12-month period ending December 7 2013 were on time.

The figure for the CrossCountry train company was 44.5%, while for Virgin Trains, which operates the West Coast Main Line, it was 48.3%.

The other main London to Scotland company - East Coast - managed a right-time figure of 53.2%.

With a serpentine network covering all of Britain except the London area, CrossCountry is particularly susceptible to any rail infrastructure problems.

Other train firms with comparatively low right-time figures were Southern (56.4%), First ScotRail (57.3%), First TransPennine Express (60.2%) and London Midland (60.6%).

Best-performing company under the right-time measure was Chiltern with a figure of 87.0%.

In the EC survey, 78% of those questioned in the UK gave either a "high" or "good" rating to services on its railway - ahead of satisfaction levels among passengers in France (74%), Netherlands (67%), Germany (51%) and Italy (39%).

Of the 26 countries covered in the survey, only Finland, with a much smaller, less complex rail network, scored a higher overall rating than in the UK.

The UK also topped Europe's seven major railways in the specific areas of punctuality and reliability, information during journeys and accessibility, three of the key areas the EC focused on in its survey.

Of Europe's major railways:

:: Satisfaction with punctuality and reliability was greatest in the UK (73%), with France (57%), Germany (48%), Italy (42%) and Poland (36%) all scoring lower.

:: The highest rates of satisfaction for provision of information during train journeys, particularly in the event of delays, were found in the UK (70%), with France on 43% and Germany 40%.

:: Satisfaction with overall accessibility of stations for people with reduced mobility was highest in the UK (65%), France (57%) and Belgium (55%).

Michael Roberts, director general of UK industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: "Passenger satisfaction in the UK has reached record levels in recent years and this latest study shows that in many areas we're setting the standard for our European neighbours to follow.

"As record numbers of passengers choose to travel by train, we need to improve even further in the coming years. The industry is working hard together to make rail travel more affordable and to offer even better services that meet passengers' expectations.

"Continued investment in the network and an industry focused on providing passengers with enhanced services will ensure that our railway continues to grow and improve."

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said: "The most baffling thing about these figures is how Network Rail bosses manage to award themselves six-figure bonuses every year when they cannot even make the trains run on time.

"Passengers will pay an average 3.1% more to travel on a second class service from January 2 while these five senior executives carry on laughing all the way to the bank."

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