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'I knew of a passenger that missed saying goodbye to her dying father': Travellers react to news of Britain’s 'least reliable train service'

Fed up passengers have given their reaction to the recent data showing that Avanti West Coast trains are the least reliable service.

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Data released by deal site Tripplo showed the West Coast Mainline operator had delays totalling over one million minutes between 2021 and 2023.

Now travellers at Wolverhampton Railway Station have shared their experiences of the service which pledges to get them from the city to London in one hour and 47 minutes.

Sarah Percival-Clarke, who travels to work from Birmingham every other day, described a train journey that was so late that another passenger missed the chance to say goodbye to her dying father.

Sarah Percival-Clarke said she has had to deal with delays as long as one hour when using Avanti West Coat

She said: “I use the trains every couple of days and it is pretty expensive.

“Unfortunately I do have to use Avanti, they’re always late and even though they’re clean-ish the toilets are no good and the seats are uncomfortable.

“The data does not surprise me.”

Sarah went on to say that passengers should have better services because they “take enough money” from them.

She added: “The delays are absolutely ridiculous, there are too many of them and I feel sorry for the staff because they get it in the neck so much.

“I remember last year a train being delayed by an hour and once I got on it was dirty and the toilet was disgusting.

“There was this one woman who was trying to get to her dad’s deathbed and because of the delay she missed those last moments - it’s not acceptable.”

Tripplo’s founder Axel Hernborg said the findings “offer a glimpse” into the standard of train services which are relied on by millions to get to work.

He also said Avanti West Coast is “consistently underperforming”.

Frankie Filograsso and Izzy Wilding regularly use the trains and think it's unfair that they can be cancelled minutes before they're due

Wolverhampton-born university student Frankie Filograsso uses the trains every week to get to Birmingham.

He said: “I just don’t think it’s fair that we are expected to pay and then the train can be cancelled two minutes before its due. I’ve been late to university so many times.

“But other than that they’re alright, pretty clean.”

WOLVERHAMPTON COPYRIGHT NATIONAL WORLD PLC TIM THURSFIELD 26/04/24.Pics for vox on standard of rail travel. Dan Coles has details..Carl Aigbogun-Membrilla..

Carl Aigbogun-Membrilla said when he used Avanti he either had to deal with a delay or the train being too packed to have an available seat.

He said: "It's just hit and miss sometimes, early in the morning or late at night. Sixth form was horrible for me, In the morning it was always packed.

"It's either packed or late, pick your poison."

Avanti West Coast train

Tripplo's study found that 15.36 per cent of all its trains were cancelled or delayed by 15 minutes or more between the start of 2021 and September last year. During the period, a total of 1,289,833 minutes were lost to delays, equivalent to 895 days.

Greater Anglia was found to be the most reliable train operator, with just 2.2 per cent of all trains being cancelled or delayed.

According to the Office of Rail and Road, the percentage of recorded station stops arriving ‘on time’ – early or less than one minute after the scheduled time in the UK was just 62.2 per cent in the latest quarter – October to December 2023.

An Avanti West Coast spokesperson said: “We would like to apologise to our customers who have been affected in recent months. The service has been below expectations on some days for a variety of reasons including driver unavailability due to historic leave policies as well as elevated sickness levels.

"We have also been impacted by issues during this time with infrastructure and weather-related challenges on the network, meaning that we had to cancel an increased number of services. This has had a bearing on our previously improved levels of performance.”