Rail chiefs bid to improve services

East Anglia's rail chiefs last night announced a host of measures to reach a punctuality target seen as the Holy Grail for train firms.But One Railway and Network Rail did not include any of the suggestions for improvements put forward in a report earlier this month by three Norfolk MPs after they gave the two firms a public grilling over their perform-ance.

East Anglia's rail chiefs last night announced a host of measures to reach a punctuality target seen as the Holy Grail for train firms.

But One Railway and Network Rail did not include any of the suggestions for improvements put forward in a report earlier this month by three Norfolk MPs after they gave the two firms a public grilling over their perform-ance.

One and Network Rail have joined forces to draw up an improvement plan designed to ensure that for the first time 90pc of trains are on time in the network. Punctuality is currently at around 87.5pc.

The plan also aims to cut out major incidents like the series of overhead power line fail-ures which caused transport misery last summer.

One's action includes:

Closing train doors at London Liverpool Street 30 seconds before departure time to ensure trains leave on time.

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Having more technicians at depots to ensure trains are repaired more quickly.

Network Rail will:

Renew more than 40 miles of track by April 2008.

Monitor overhead power lines between Norwich-London every fortnight.

Install monitoring equip-ment to pre-warn of cable failures.

Put in a new public address system at Liverpool Street so that passengers can hear announcements more clearly.

One's managing director Andrew Chivers said: “The actions and investment in the improvement plan will help to raise punctuality and reliability standards still further, providing passengers with the better levels of performance they rightly expect.”

Network Rail route director Patrick Hallgate said: “We have made progress at improving services for passengers but there is much more we need to do.

“The plan lays out the road we will follow to deliver a more punctual and reliable train service in the months and years ahead.”

Last November, Norfolk MPs Richard Bacon, Ian Gibson and Norman Lamb staged a select committee-style meeting to question One and Network Rail about problems, particularly on the Norwich-London line.

Earlier this month, the three published a 40-page report setting out proposed changes, including rapid trains at peak times, calling only at Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester and London.

They also called for passengers forced to stand in overcrowded carriages to be allowed to take available seats in first class, tougher government penalties for poor performance and more information for passengers when things went wrong.

None of the measures are included in the rail companies' improvement plan announced last night.