Back on track

IT is only fair, given the criticism that train operators receive when services go awry, that they are praised when they put in place improvements which will benefit passengers.

This is particularly pertinent with the welcome timetable improvements announced by East Coast. They are not cosmetic changes as a result of tinkering on the part of the nationalised operator.

The scale of this shake-up is a tacit recognition that there is demand for even more services between all parts of this region and London, whether it be the additional services from Leeds, York and Doncaster or the new Sunday train that will run between the capital and Harrogate.

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As well as benefiting this region’s business community, the restoration of daily links between Harrogate and King’s Cross for the first time in more than 20 years will make it easier for delegates travelling to and from the spa town’s thriving conference centre or for those tourists planning a weekend at one of the gateways to the Dales.

However, a word of caution is required. From a reliability and punctuality perspective, East Coast is one of the worst performing train operators. Some factors, like the weather, are outside the firm’s remit. That is accepted. But, on too many occasions, these delays have been exacerbated by the inaccurate information that is passed on to passengers by staff.

If these changes are to fulfil their potential, and prompt the railway industry to, again, look at how capacity can be increased along the East Coast Main Line, then these reliability and performance issues must be addressed.

On too many occasions, travellers have paid over the odds for a standard of service that does not live up to their expectations, or the price of the ticket.

In short, this is the time for a new start.