Network Rail not yet on right track insists MP

The firm in charge of Britain's railway tracks and signals gave itself a pat on the back for punctuality - much to the chagrin of passengers.

The firm in charge of Britain's railway tracks and signals gave itself a pat on the back for punctuality yesterday - much to the chagrin of passengers.

Network Rail said 91pc of trains ran on time over the six months to September 30, in a period of "continued progress" for the operator.

The not-for-dividend firm, which succeeded Railtrack in 2002, posted pre-tax profits of £780m, 4pc ahead of last year when it made a profit for the first time.

The group also upped its spending on the rail network to £1.7bn over the six-month period, £243m more than last year.

But last night Ian Gibson, one of three Norfolk MPs who gave Network Rail and One a public grilling in Norwich earlier this year over their performance, said more work was needed.

"There were 200 people on a train on Thursday night that left London at 7.30pm but got in two and a half hours late who would disagree. I would not pat them on the back and I don't think many other passengers who regularly use the Norwich to London line would," he said.

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Two weeks ago Network Rail set out proposals to provide more than 100,000 extra seats a day on trains as part of investment plans for the five years to 2014.

The group will spend £11.4bn over the period on renewing track, signals, structures and stations as it seeks to handle more than 1.1 billion passengers a year - a 60-year high. Rail freight has also grown by more than 50pc in the past 10 years.

Peter Meades, One spokesman, said: "There has been significant progress in the last few months from our point of view.

"In the spring we launched a joint improvement plan with Network Rail with the aim of increasing train service performance to 90pc and that has been successful. Certainly from spring to early autumn we have been consistently at or above 90pc across all routes."

Two weeks ago Network Rail set out proposals to provide more than 100,000 extra seats a day on trains as part of investment plans for the five years to 2014.

The group will spend £11.4bn over the period on renewing track, signals, structures and stations as it seeks to handle more than 1.10bn passengers a year - a 60-year

high.

This includes closing London Liverpool Street at Christmas to allow for a major upgrade, including the replacement of overhead cables.

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