Trains services improving

PUBLISHED: 12:11 18 February 2010 | UPDATED: 12:48 10 June 2010

THE chairman of the Exmouth to Exeter trainline passengers group says there are still improvements to be made despite First Great Western been named rail operator of the year.

THE chairman of the Exmouth to Exeter trainline passengers' group says there are still improvements to be made despite First Great Western been named rail operator of the year.

FGW, operator of the Avocet Line the region's busiest line with over a million journeys made in 2007, have seen a remarkable change of fortunes over the last 18 months.

It was only in 2008 that Government ministers warned if they didn't get their act together they could have their franchise revoked, and were forced to plough £29 million into station upgrades and improving services.

The Department of Transport issued a Remedial Plan notice following a slew of train cancellations and delays.

FGW were also heavily criticised for not giving passengers correct information on disruptions following 'unacceptably high levels of train cancellations' in late 2007.

It seems the line was a victim of its popularity - in 2007 1,032,723 journeys were made on the Avocet line, more than four times as many as the total number on all the other six branch lines in Devon and Cornwall marking an unprecedented 8.53 per cent in passenger growth.

Now FGW has beaten operators including Chiltern Railways, London Underground and National Express at the national Rail Business Awards ceremony in London last week.

Over the last two years, First Great Western's performance has risen by more than 10 per cent, with over 92 per cent of trains arriving on time.

There has also been a 10 per cent increase in passenger satisfaction scores, with 82 per cent of customers now happy with the service First Great Western provides.

Lympstone's Tony Day, Chairman of the Avocet Line Rail User Group: "Things have improved, there are not so many delays and not so many cancellations.

"But we still get short-formed trains, and fares still aren't being collected and the rolling stock is old and awful, but that isn't their fault.

"Things have improved over last 18 months, its better on the main but there is more to do."

FGW director Mark Hopwood said: "This is a really fantastic achievement - we have come a long way in providing a good service for our customers.

"There is still more to do, but I'm really proud of everyone and what we have achieved so far.

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