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Royal Mail hails "best-ever" performance

Royal Mail says the last year was the "best-ever" for its customers in terms of service.The group today claims that during the last 12 months its quality targets have been both met and surpassed.Ninety-four per cent of first class letters arrived the next day in 2006, meaning the 93 per cent target was "comfortably exceeded".And 98.9 per cent of second class mail was delivered within three days, beating the target by 0.4 percentage points.In total 11 of Royal Mail's 12 targets were met, based on 88,500 sample letters, parcels and packets sent to 6,000 addresses.The claim comes after the government announced earlier this month that 2,500 post offices would close after the network became "unsustainable".The Communication Workers union described the closures as a "devastating blow" for millions of people, condemning the government's consultation period as a "sham".But Millie Banerjee, chair of postal services watchdog Postwatch, said that "severe pruning" was necessary if the post office network was to survive.Citing annual losses of £200 million per year, trade and industry secretary Alistair Darling announced earlier this month: "The network needs to change to meet the challenges it faces."

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