East Coast train services are bottom of punctuality league

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Train punctuality fell in the first part of autumn, with mainline operator East Coast the worst performer.

East Coast, which runs services between London King’s Cross and Leeds, Doncaster and York, ran only 84.1 per cent of trains on time in the period between September 18 and October 15.

They were one of eight operators who failed to achieve the 90 per cent target for train punctuality, with CrossCountry and Northern Rail other Yorkshire services to fall short.

Overall, passenger train companies ran 91.5 per cent of trains on time, though this was a small decrease on 92.8 per cent for the same period last year.

Network Rail said that East Coast’s performance was affected by a number of external factors.

An East Coast spokesman said: “The majority of our delays continue to be caused by external factors outside of our control as a train operator, with a signalling failure just north of London King’s Cross station the number one cause of delay in recent weeks. We are working hard to continue to improve our performance.”

But passenger groups said train companies needed to improve their performance, especially with regulated fares – including season tickets – set to rise by an average of eight per cent from January next year.

David Sidebottom, director at Passenger Focus, said: “Punctual trains are among passengers’ top priorities for improvement and a key driver of passenger satisfaction, so it’s disappointing to see this dip in train performance.

“It’s essential that Network Rail and train companies re-double efforts to make sure that poor performance is spotted, understood and addressed.”

The other main London to Scotland company, Virgin Trains, operated 84.5 per cent of their trains on time on the West Coast Main Line, a fall of nearly five per cent on last year.

A spokesman for Northern Rail said: “We are disappointed that our performance levels have dropped slightly, although this is typical of this time of year with the onset of autumn.  Cable theft continues to be one of the biggest causes of delay to services and therefore disruption for passengers.”

London Overground was the best performer, with 96.9 per cent of trains running on time.