Train company quizzed by MP over rise in commuter complaints

PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 August 2018

Nailsea and Backwell railway station.

Nailsea and Backwell railway station.

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An MP is demanding answers from the firm running North Somerset’s trains following a large rise in complaints.

Nailsea and Backwell railway station.Nailsea and Backwell railway station.

The Times reported two weeks ago how 6.1 per cent of trains were delayed or cancelled by operator Great Western Railway (GWR) between December 2017 and March 2018.

Passenger complaints have risen by 60 per cent.

John Penrose, MP for Weston and the villages, including Congresbury and Churchill, has written to GWR to ask how it intends to tackle the problems commuters are facing.

MORE: Increase in train delays and cancellations causing problems for North Somerset commuters.

He said: “Earlier this year, First promised us new trains with less overcrowding and better reliability. But instead the figures are getting worse, not better.

“A better train service is vital if we’re going to give local residents a decent alternative to using their cars, otherwise we’ll only add to the traffic jams and congestion around the M5 ‘malfunction junction’ J21.

“We were promised an improving service which would offer a greener, more comfortable and reliable alternative, for visitors and local residents alike.

“But the latest figures show things are getting worse, not better.

John Penrose.John Penrose.

“I’ve written to Great Western Railway asking for answers, and how they’re going to fix it.”

In his letter, Mr Penrose said back in January GWR was ‘optimistic’ rail services were going to improve, with trains able to accommodate more people, and provide a more regular service.

GWR previously told the Times it was making ‘visible and tangible’ progress towards upgrading its infrastructure and trains.

But it admitted the progress it was making had come at a price for commuters.

A spokesman said: “As we approach the final stages of the work, we are only too aware performance in some areas of the GWR network has been impacted.

“The progress we have made has come at a price, as Network Rail does more engineering work, in less time, to meet the tough timescales involved.

“In turn, this has put pressure on with wider punctuality and reliability being challenged.”

Times readers said they sometimes had to wait a considerable amount of time for their trains, as delayed services sometimes stop calling at Nailsea & Backwell Station in an effort to make up for lost time.

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