Norfolk

Greater Anglia: Twitter outcry over train operator award 'insult'

Passengers at Norwich railway station after a train cancellation
Image caption Greater Anglia said it was "sorry for those occasions when we have let people down" but said the award was a tremendous accolade for hard-working staff

Rail passengers have mocked a train operator criticised for its "catastrophic performance" after it was crowned the best in the industry.

Greater Anglia, whose customers suffered major disruption in December, was named on Twitter as the best train operator in the Rail Business Awards.

Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson was among those who responded, with some describing the gong as an "insult".

The company apologised "for occasions when we have let people down".

There was no delay in criticism after the award organisers announced Greater Anglia's win on Thursday night.

"I assume the winning criteria were stupidity and incompetence," said one Twitter user.

The comments continued with: "My God what are the other train operators like?", with another replying: " I think the competition pretty much just ferry people back and forth in a broken wheelbarrow."

Grey-Thompson, who last month tweeted that she could not book a wheelchair space in first class, asked if the award was for "proximity to a cafe bar".

"This is an insult and GA should hand it back with an apology to is suffering customers," one comment said.

Greater Anglia - which did not tweet about the award - said judges praised the company for, among other things, launching a 90-minute service between Norwich and London and "continuing to innovate and improve while also preparing for the arrival of new trains."

It added that it had "made real progress in improving punctuality", with 35,000 more trains running on time than in 2018.

'Let people down'

Cabinet minister and Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey has previously criticised the "catastrophic performance" of the new trains, introduced in December, and called on Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to intervene.

Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said the award was a "credit to the hard work and determination of our team to make our service much better for our customers".

"We recognise, of course, that last year ended on a difficult note on our rural lines due to signalling issues and that punctuality is not consistently where we want it to be so far this year," he added.

"We're sorry for those occasions when we have let people down and we are determined to get performance back on track as soon as possible."

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