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Complaints about the trains soar; THREEFOLD INCREASE IN A YEAR.

COMPLAINTS from rail passengers in Coventry and Warwickshire have more than trebled in the past year, according to rail watchdogs.

The number of moans from passengers in the West Midlands soared by 366 per cent in the 12 months ended in March.

A report by the Central Rail Users Consultative Committee has revealed that one in five Virgin West Coast and Virgin Cross Country trains was delayed.

Most of the complaints were about train punctuality and reliability, with the lack of information about delays, the state of the train's cleanliness and the cost of tickets also featuring strongly.

Peter Evans, deputy secretary of the Midlands branch of the committee, said Central Trains were the subject of the most of the 3,898 complaints received in the area.

But Mr Evans said the firm ran more services and took more passengers than any other operator and was likely to be complained about the most.

He said: "There have been some highs and some lows this year. Although complaints have gone up the numbers of passengers has also risen.

"Some services have been trouble-free while others have problems."

Mr Evans said the complaint process had also been made easier by some companies, encouraging more passengers to pick up the phone or put pen to paper.

"But people who complain to us have got no particular incentive to do so and there are good reasons to be disgruntled," he added.

"The Wolverhampton-Birmingham-Coventry corridor is used by 11 companies and there are more things that can go wrong than on lines in other parts of the country.

"New rolling stock is starting to arrive and there is a backlog of maintenance work from the days of British Rail.

"I would expect the performance of the companies to improve dramatically in the next couple of years."

Central Trains commercial director Clive Tilley said his firm's punctuality had risen to 94 per cent while the number of passenger journeys had increased by two million.

He said: "I am pleased to say that the overwhelming majority of our passengers who arrive punctually at their destinations are winners.

"We aim to provide our customers with a viable alternative to the private car."
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Author:Hopker, Antony
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Aug 19, 1999
Words:364
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