RAIL company c2c has apologised to commuters after it lost its title as the most punctual service in the country.

Network Rail and c2c have released an action plan to improve services on the Fenchurch Street to Shoebury line after two months of above average delays on the service.

The companies promise engineers will fit more reliable components, more protection devices and monitoring systems, with more staff out to check them.

The formerly top-rated operator’s punctuality score was down to 97.3 per cent in the month leading up to February 11.

In January, both Merseyrail and the London Overground performed better than c2c.

Despite it still ranking highly when compared to the national average of around 89 per cent, it has promised action. A joint statement from Julian Drury, managing director of c2c, and Richard Schofield, route managing director of Network Rail said: “Since 2010 c2c customers have enjoyed the best train service performance in the country.

“But the last two months have not been good. The c2c route has been hit by a decline in the reliability of signalling, power supply, overhead line equipment and level crossings and c2c customers have suffered repeated, and very unwelcome disruption.

“Put simply, our service has been well below the standard you have come to expect of c2c and that you rightly deserve.

We really are very sorry indeed that this has happened, and been repeated so often, and we know your frustration is completely justified.”

The statement adds: “We have also revised the rules about how we respond if things do go wrong to make sure we are quicker off the mark.

“Every action has a named person responsible for it, with dates, a measurable result, and daily and weekly reviews.”

Peter Slattery, chairman of the Southend Rail Travellers’ Federation, said: “We have noticed they’ve slipped down the table lately. It’s good they are holding their hands up and admitting this and going to be doing something about it.”