A mid-Essex rail watchdog has claimed peak hour rail services are improving for the First time since the Hatfield disaster.

Witham and Braintree Rail Users' Association said early morning commuter trains from Braintree and Witham were improving and more were arriving at London Liverpool Street on time.

And commuters said on the morning of Tuesday, March 6 all morning trains ran to time, the first time this had been achieved since the Hatfield crash on October 17, last year.

The figures follow Tuesday's announcement by Railtrack that some restrictions were being lifted and delays in the coming weeks should be kept to a minimum of five minutes.

First Great Eastern pledged from Monday branch line services would revert back to the published timetable, a move which will mean the restoration of peak evening through services to Braintree.

But the rail users' association warned there was still a long way to go to normal service, as their latest figures for March show 76.2 per cent of trains from Witham and Braintree ran late.

David Bigg, chairman of the rail users' association, said: "Early morning trains are consistently arriving on time and delays overall are gradually reducing."

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