TRAIN operators on the southern section of the West Coast Main Line — which has been plagued with problems and delays both during and since a £9 billion route modernisation programme — have reported big increases in passenger complaints.
While across the country the overall level of complaints about train services continued to decrease, with train service performance accounting for 36 per cent of all complaints last year compared to 42 per cent the year before, London Midland, London Overground and Virgin West Coast all showed big increases.
London Overground, which uses the West Coast route between London Euston and Watford Junction, had an increase in complaints of 87.8 per cent, while London Midland — operating commuter and regional services between Euston, the West Midlands and Liverpool — saw complaints go up by 75 per cent.
Virgin, which operates inter-city services over the full length of the West Coast Main Line from Euston to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, recorded an increase of 52.1 per cent in passenger complaints.
Train service performance was the largest cause of complaints, followed by fares and refunds, according to the Office of Rail Regulation in its latest rail performance statistics for 2008-09.
Under the former Citizen’s Charter, complaints should be answered in no more than 20 working days. London Overground responded to 96 per cent of its complaints, and London Midland managed 84 per cent of replies, within this period. But Virgin managed to respond to only 66 per cent of its complaints within 20 working days.