May 18 2013 Latest news:
Friday, March 1, 2013
Greater Anglia has been praised for making a positive start with its first year of running much of the region’s rail services after it was named train operator of the year in the national Rail Business Awards.
The Abellio train operator, which was awarded a two-year contract to run services from London and across East Anglia in February 2012, was presented with the accolade at a ceremony in London on Wednesday where judges described Greater Anglia’s performance during its first year of operation as being “very impressive.”
Greater Anglia’s managing director Ruud Haket said the operator was delighted progress on the network was being recognised but acknowledged further improvements also needed to be made.
Mr Haket said: “I am delighted that barely a year into our short franchise, we have received this independent endorsement of our achievements. To be bracketed amongst the leading UK train companies at such an early stage is a tribute to the commitment and dedication of our employees.
“We know we have much more to do to achieve the consistency of service that our customers rightly expect, but we have made significant steps forward in punctuality, information provision and ticket purchasing facilities already and we are passionate about delivering high standards of customer service day in, day out, for passengers across our network.
“We are committed to making further service improvements over the remainder of our short franchise to July 2014 and to continue to work with regional stakeholders to help secure the long term investment needed to further upgrade train services in East Anglia - focusing on the priorities highlighted in the East Anglian Rail Prospectus. Our focus will always be on continuously improving rail services for the customers and communities we serve.”
The Dutch-owned operator runs 1,900 trains a day across its network and carries two million passengers a week.
It has improved annual punctuality to more than 92pc - which Greater Anglia said was the highest level for the East Anglian franchise in at least 12 years.
In a recent National Passenger Survey by independent watchdog Passenger Focus, Greater Anglia achieved 83pc in passenger satisfaction - a figure which put Greater Anglia towards the bottom of the league table but was a marked improvement on the service’s 2011 figure of 77pc.
In another recent customer satisfaction survey by Which? - where more than half of train companies scored a customer satisfaction score of 50pc or lower - Greater Anglia achieved 42pc.
Linda McCord, manager of independent passenger watchdog Passenger Focus, said: “Greater Anglia has managed to significantly improve a number of aspects of its services and this has been reflected in what passenger have said to us in our National Passenger Survey. However, it’s important that Greater Anglia continues to work hard to deliver more improvements and further increase passenger satisfaction.”
Meanwhile Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, who has led the campaign for improvements to the region’s railways, described Greater Anglia being named train operator of the year as “positive news.”
She said: “Having led the East Anglian Rail Prospectus Campaign in Parliament I think it has become clear that Norfolk and East Anglia are being taken ever more seriously and we all want to convert that into improved rail services.
“Improved rail services in the long run will be good for passengers and good for business and jobs in our area.”
She added: “I congratulate Greater Anglia in their award.
“I travel on the rail service a lot from Norwich, and although there are frustrations to the service, which is why we need long-term improvements, I think it is also clear that Greater Anglia have been putting in a lot of effort.”
John Woods, a spokesman for Norwich and Norfolk Transport Action Group, said he thought the award was deserved as long as Greater Anglia keeps up reliability.
He said: “They have made a lot of initiatives and come up with promises, and made a good start.
“They have made a physical start renovating quite a number of stations around their area, and the consultation process with the travelling public is very good because they have set up lots of meetings to speak to people and get their views and build them into their future plans, which is very promising.
“We would like for there to be an improvement of rolling stock but that is difficult to promise with a short-term contract.
“The service is pretty good, pretty reliable, altogether I think it is a well-deserved award.
“The negotiations with Network Rail for fewer disruptions at weekends is brilliant news too.”