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Scotland on top in comparison of rail services

THERE are huge disparities in the quality of train services in different regions of Britain, according to a report.

Services are best in Scotland, London, south-east England, north-west England and the West Midlands, says the report from consultants Credo in association with the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

However, the Welsh, east of England and north-east England rail services perform much less well.

Even though services in London are well used and have benefited from major investment, passenger satisfaction is hindered by concern about cost and overcrowding, the report says.

It adds there are improvements to be made everywhere, with services in Wales, for example, being less well used and being less accessible than in other parts, as well as suffering low passenger-satisfaction levels.

The report also says east of England and north-east England services have relatively sparse rail networks, making services inaccessible to many people.

CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph said: "The research exposes the huge disparities in the quality of train services across the country. Importantly, it suggests the answer is to give local administrations more control over their rail networks.

"The comparison between Scotland and Wales is stark, with devolved management of services in Scotland delivering significantly better results than the equivalent in Wales."

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which speaks on behalf of the rail industry, said: "While there is always room for improvement, rail passengers are travelling on services that are unrecognisably better when compared to 15 years ago. Passenger satisfaction is at a near record high with 500 million more journeys each year being rated 'good' or 'satisfactory' according to the independent passenger watchdog.

"The railway's success has been achieved through a combination of significant sustained public investment via Network Rail, and train operators focused on increasing passenger numbers.

"As the Credo report says, the overall rail growth in the past decade shows the success the rail industry can achieve."

RMT transport union leader Bob Crow said the report showed a disintegration of Britain's railways.

He said: "Delays to fleet replacement and cuts to maintenance and renewals all leave services at constant risk of breakdown and it is no wonder passengers are angry at paying the highest fares in Europe to travel on crowded, unreliable services."

A Scottish Government spokesman said work was under way to ensure ScotRail and Network Rail dealt quickly and effectively with events that have an impact on reliability and the Transport Minister Keith Brown had also met the Office of Rail Regulation to discuss performance levels.

He added: "This study highlights the advantages of the ScotRail franchise being devolved but also offers a tantalising glimpse of what more could be achieved in an independent Scotland. ScotRail has been a great success since responsibility for the contract was passed to the Scottish Government, delivering growing passenger numbers and higher levels of passenger satisfaction.

"We are making over £3 billion in capital investment alone in the coming years to operate, maintain and enhance our network. This investment presents the franchisee with opportunities to increase passenger satisfaction, drive growth, and improve services."

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