National Passenger Survey: Rail satisfaction at record high

Passengers waiting for a train More than 31,500 travellers were interviews for the Passenger Focus survey

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The number of passengers satisfied with their rail journey is at a record high but fewer than half of people think ticket prices are worth the money, a Passenger Focus survey says.

The 85% satisfaction levels in autumn 2012 are a record since the survey began in 1999.

But only 47% were satisfied with their ticket's value for money, compared with 46% the year before.

The National Passenger Survey surveyed 31,626 travellers.

The research was conducted between 1 September and 12 November 2012, with "top-up" interviews carried out within the last three weeks. People were asked for their opinion on the journey they were taking on that day.

The satisfaction levels stood at 84% in autumn 2011.

Anthony Smith, chief executive officer for Passenger Focus, said that while "things are moving in the right direction" more needed to be done to improve rail services.

"There are some trains that are very crowded, there are some routes that are very crowded that are desperately crying out for more investment in terms of more trains and longer trains.

"Quite a bit of that is in the pipeline and it will come at some point in the future.

"This is an average picture, it doesn't reflect every single passenger's experience but I think it does show the industry is starting to broadly move in the right direction."

Fare pricing

With regard to the low number of passengers satisfied with their ticket's value for money, Mr Smith said: "We've had years now of above-inflation fare rises.

"We've now got a government promise to row these fare rises back so that they're pegged at inflation only. The sooner that promise becomes a reality the better."

Start Quote

The report's strong results include significantly improved scores in satisfaction with services, stations and dealing with delays”

End Quote Michael Roberts Association of Train Operating Companies

The number of those satisfied with the amount of room for all passengers to sit or stand went up 1% to 69% compared with autumn 2011.

The report also says passenger satisfaction with punctuality and reliability has risen 2% to 83%, a level only achieved once before, in autumn 2009.

For the long distance operators the proportion of passengers who were very or fairly satisfied overall was 89% - this figure was 86% in autumn 2011.

For regional operators, 86% of passengers were very or fairly satisfied with their journey overall, a drop of 1% from last year when 87% were satisfied.

The lowest ratings for overall satisfaction were given to Northern Rail (80%), First Capital Connect (81%) and Southern (82%) while Greater Anglia, First Great Western and London Midland all had 83% of passengers satisfied.

The highest ratings for overall satisfaction were achieved by Grand Central (96%), First Hull Trains (95%), and Heathrow Connect (94%) while Heathrow Express, c2c, and London Overground all had 93% of passengers satisfied.

Railway 'success'

Bruce Williamson, of campaign group Railfuture, said he was not surprised that rail satisfaction levels were high.

"Since privatisation, train companies have slowly got their act together. Punctuality, for example, seems to be improving.

"But the two main bug bears remain congestion and fare levels. We know there's huge dissatisfaction with fares because we have the highest fares in Europe."

Mr Williamson said fares needed to come down in "real terms" because "Having fare rises at the rate of inflation just maintains the status quo."

Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, said the report was "further evidence of the success of today's railway".

"The report's strong results include significantly improved scores in satisfaction with services, stations and dealing with delays. These are a testament to the industry's hard work and major government investment in rail.

"We recognise there is still much to be done. Train companies are working with Network Rail on a long-term programme to continue improving services and to deliver better value for passengers and taxpayers alike."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    So people like the service but don't want to pay for it. Looks about right for modern Britain.

    Everything has its price and its cost. Our railway system is being distorted by the commuting idea; namely that people can buy a nice house where it is cheaper and look to the taxpayer to fund the expensive journey to their work.

    Railways should be primarily for freight. This need not be subsidised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    IF "being satisfied" means .that you finally get a seat after a scrum then I suppose the figures are correct. As that doesn't happen all the time and I'm left standing or remember to take a fishing stool to sit on by the door I think those figures were conjured up by the Brothers Grimm. And grim best describes most train journeys for those who rely on them the most.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    39.Stephen Gray
    £200 a month. Blimey, I thought fares that cheap went out in the early 2000s!

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Priceless, you just couldn't make this up....oh, sorry it seems someone already did!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I don't believe these findings for a single second and I very rarely travel by train. I can only imagine how daily commuters feel about it.

    I've travelled by train a few times in Spain and on Barcelona's metro system. It was faster, cleaner, more comfortable, regular, punctual and most importantly of all, much cheaper than any train I've seen here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    I love my commute into London. It is the favourite part of my life. Except it isn't and South Eastern trains are an utter joke. Never get a seat, often late and sometimes just cancelled with a terrible (but original) excuse. Then the Northern Line... oh I won't even get started on that crown jewel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    Personally I find the service provided terrible, and the survey, well that must have been taken by thier staff members after a hefty pay rise because almost every day for the past two weeks thier has been disruption. With no information communicated and unproffesional staff who do nothing but further frustrate passengers. Paying £200 a month for a rail ticket should atleast get you a seat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    What time of day did they do these interviews? At which stations? On which franchises?

    I never saw anyone asking questions, no do I know of anyone being asked. As almost every train I took during this time was late it's hard to believe 84% would be satisfied with that!

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    I've taken the train from Nottingham to London 3 or 4 times last year. Apart from one hideous journey when 2 trains were crammed into 1 the rest of the trips have been on-time & I've got a seat.

    There's plenty of room for improvement but I can remember FAR worse too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Who on earth were asked? London Midland cancelled my train today and I have been late for work on several occasioins already in 2013 due to poor service.
    Time to let the Car take the strain I think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    And Statisticaly 74% of all statistics are Bogus

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Must have interviewed a tiny number of HYS ID commuters otherwise figures would be 99.9% negative.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    These statistics are based on 31,000 responses...

    Apparently 1.8 million use the train every day to get to work.

    This sample is not representative of the population and is more than likely to be skewed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    I'd love to know the exact question they asked people, e.g. "Are you satisfied that you didn't die?"

    For me it's got much worse since FirstGroup have taken over more journeys. During the Christmas shopping season the trains going to Manchester / Manchester Airport on Saturday morning still only had 3 carriages. I had a seat reservation but couldn't physically get on it because it was so packed!

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I dont believe this at all. My experences on the trains during 2012 have been truly aweful.
    83% satisfaction with London Midland?????? Seriously. There service is terrible, it is on time literally 1 in 10.
    What people are they asking?

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    record high compared to what?!
    Our trains are cramped; food is expensive; fare is rising. Who exactly is happy with it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    These 'surveys' are rubbish at best, lies at worst - At Maidenhead someone got on the Marlow branch line train with a handful but when the train was delayed none were handed out!

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Every time I travel by rail there's always a problem, whether it be delays, cancellations or simple irritant like a lack of heating last week. However, the prices they charge are totally out of synch with the quality of service provided. Carlisle station in the evening is a ghost town. There are no cafes open and it's an embarrassment when you compare with the service provided on the continent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    47% happy with the fares? I don't believe it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    "The highest ratings for overall satisfaction were achieved by Grand Central (96%), First Hull Trains (95%), and Heathrow Connect (94%) while Heathrow Express, c2c, & London Overground all had 93%"

    London Overground is nationalised. All the rest bar c2c are 'open access operators'. Conclusion: what we all knew, if railways are privatised there MUST be competition, otherwise keep them state-owned.


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