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 65.

    And os it blooming well should be better - we, the tax payers, are spending so much more on the railways now than we were under BR.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    "I used to regularly take the train to work. However, I eventually got fed up with the price rises and the faint smell of stale urine, so I started driving to work."

    Funny, since you've started driving to work the faint smell of stale urine has gone away, possibly leading to the small improvement in customer satisfaction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Who exactly are they surveying? Perhaps they are filtering out those who "do not fit the desired profile"? (i.e. they gave negative responses)

    I do not know anybody that is happy with their commute to work.

    - Ancient trains
    - Regularly late
    - Overcrowding, in and out of peak time
    - Lack of staffing at stations
    - Endless increases in fare costs
    - Endless decreases in service quality

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    I am quiet happy with Southwest trains except for the prices.

    Still I can't get my head around, why it is more expensive to travel at peak hours. When a train is full with paying costumers than that train is very profitable, whereas an empty train at 2pm costs a lot per head. Surely peak hour travel should be cheaper, right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Personally i prefer walking backwards to my destination and not paying for the train, but that is just me CYA fellazzz

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    All that I can say is that people are easily pleased by mediocrity. I suppose that mediocrity is better than downright bad, though . . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Think I'll stick with the car.........

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    "sampling methods in order to ensure that rail bosses who pay for it hear exactly what they want to hear."
    Yes they probably asked First Class passengers mainly and never surveyed anyone on days were the service was cancelled or delayed. £400 per month + £100 per month parking (they couldn't grit the car park) and the service is poor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Its amazing what people can get used to.

    Then a small improvement on an otherwise low quality service will get positive feed-back.

    Go to Japan. One train I was on was two minutes late and the driver apologised, profusely, in 4 languages including English. 2 minutes - thats "on time" here. The trains were cheap, clean, punctual, fast.

    We should aim far higher than we do currently.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Lies and statistics!

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    "National Passenger Survey: Rail satisfaction at record high"

    Proof the rail industry is living in cuckoo land...

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Can't complain about my train service. There's a train every 15 minutes. I am guaranteed a seat for my whole journey (last station on my line where you are likely to get a seat). my office is 2 mins walk from station, journey takes me 30mins. Pay less than £120 a month for my annual season ticket, so yep, i'm one of those who is actually satisfied.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.


    "These statistics are based on 31,000 responses...
    This sample is not representative of the population and is more than likely to be skewed!"

    The NPS, like most customer satisfaction surveys uses the best, most up-to-date statistical techniques and sampling methods in order to ensure that rail bosses who pay for it hear exactly what they want to hear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    stanilic - I think we pay too much for it anyway. It has to be about value for money somewhere, compare most euro. train fares. They come out on top in every dept. As for railways being primarily for freight, you obviously don't like trains. I presume you don't use them either so why such strong opinions?
    Mr Truculent - WE didn't slash the railways, the GOVERNMENT did. Another "we don't get a say"

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    This survey has to be a joke, surely ?

    We're all still paying a high price for John Major's failed and discredited rail privatisation.

    The railways used to be run for the benefit of the country, now they exist only for the benefit of fatcats.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    It would be interesting to see the questions asked of passengers during this survey. You can do a lot to skew survey findings by asking the 'right' questions. Was it multiple choice with four or five set answers or a questionnaire?

    I'm not surprised Northern trains is in the bottom three, operating 2-car trains packed with commuters and 4-car empty trains going in the opposite direction!

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Generally, people who are brassed off don't then like being pestered, to fill in a questionnaire to boot.

    This is pretty meaningless.

    (And no, BBC, I haven't got 5 minutes to tell you what I think of this site either).

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    The trains are not that bad, but the fares are eye-watering compared to Europe. When tourists from Europe visit they are stunned how expensive the trains are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    I am fairly happy with the service i get. The prices of tickets is dependant on where they are going to. If the prices were high and going to nothing but improving the service and running costs then that would be ok as the ticket prices would drop and service would remain high. But i somewhat suspect alot of this money is just going into the pocket of those sitting at the top

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    We say the French are awkward, but it is us. After WW2, The French built fast inter city rail links. We in the UK slashed the Railways.(Beeching) The French built Nuclear power station so it would not be dependent on any other country. Most of the UK power at night comes from France


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