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 145.

    Personally, I am more than happy with my season ticket on the Merioneth and Llantsilly Rail Traction Company Ltd.
    It's affordable , I can sit down and Ivor the engine is always punctual.

    I was interviewed in December 2012.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    I can use 2 trains to get to work one is a modern brilliant service the other....................... Both are run by the same company. I use the the bus for the 2nd part now but even that at best is a shambles.
    Privatisation works!!! Don't make me laugh.
    Satisfied not likely, but then I wasn't asked!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    "National Passenger Survey: Rail satisfaction at record high"


  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    141.Michael Lloyd
    Whilst I personally am quite happy with my daily commute on South West Trains, I do agree with you that it is a miniscule sample of public opinion. 400,000 people use London Waterloo alone each day, I dont know how many millions of train journeys are made every day but I'll bet 31,500 is not even 1%.

    Cost is a matter of government (past and present) policy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    31,500 people were interviewed. What percentage is that of rail travellers? I suspect this "survey" was very carefully done indeed, to obtain the desired result.

    I have travelled by rail on many continental lines. Our trains are rubbish by comparison. It's not the age of the rolling stock (doesn't bother me) or the cleanliness (the passengers put the dirt there), it's cost and timekeeping. Awful!

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    All the rail companies have to provide for satisfaction is a train that leaves and arrives on time with a seat for the passenger. The fact that 15% of passsengers aren't satisfied speaks volumes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    If you ask the right people and filter out the Don't Knows, you'll surely end up with the right answers. Opinions on rail travel can only be based upon personal experience.

    At least the majority of rail travellers must be happier than the motorists who often have to wait up to 25 minutes before they can get over a BR main-line crossing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    I don't know where they conducted this survey but the trains are absolutely shocking.

    I commute on the train and the price is appalling. If I'm going long distance it's always cheaper for me to drive, especially if there's more than one person going. That cuts the price to half of rail.

    The government has agreed to above inflation fare rises for the next 5 years. Privatisation is a failure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Having witnessed violence on a train because of the ridiculous way train companies offer reduced rate tickets 4 people buying in advance.
    One poor chap had 2 pay an arm and a leg to board the same train on the platform without a seat paying much more than the smug bargain hunter who ended up with a bop on the nose!
    Well done the Rail Way Co's, youve lost the plot & r running the trains 4 ur selves

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    An absolute disgrace!!

    The rail companies should hang their heads in shame at their behaviour, the idea that these surveys are impartial and reflect the opinions of rail passengers verges on criminal negligence.

    They should sacked coming out with such a stupid, bias report!

    Train are packed, over priced, passengers badly attended to and treated like cattle.

    Some humility and reality needed!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    I just checked the dictionary they're using and satisfied if defined as "Got used to it".

    I commute every weekday and the service has only improved because the delays are shorter, but still as frequent. That's not a good service - it's a less rubbish one!

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    How do you measure satisfaction? If the "pass level" is low enough then people are satisfied! Britain's railways are overpriced, the infrastructure is old-fashioned and the trains run to make company's a profit and not to provide a passenger service. Travel by train in Switzerland: its a state railway and you'll be very satisfied. One national tariff structure for all buses, tarins and ships too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Surveys are highly skewed: they pick the right times, places, and people to ask to give them their preferred outcome. Had they simply opened up a message board on their website, (which would have been both easier and cheaper) they'd have got more truthful comments like the ones here. It's just all spin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    The only thing improving is the way that they ask the questions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Last night my train company decided that, since my train was running late, they'd dump me and lots of others at Ascot and send the train on straight to Reading. Result: their train was not technically late at Reading, hence no damage to the hallowed performance statistics. Other result: passengers (who are not dumb) know that they've been sold short again. Satisfied? Absolutely not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    "Rail satisfaction at record high"

    You know when they say this sort of thing its actually at a record low but someone has found a way of skewing the figures to give the opposite impression.

    Can we have some truthful data please I'm fed up with gloss and lies.

    How can satisfaction be at a record high??? I don't remember my head being in somebody's armpit every morning 15 year ago!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    I commute to London on a daily basis from the Kemble in Gloucestershire and have done so for many years. I have never been asked to complete a survey and neither have my commuting chums. We are all completley unhappy with the service and outraged at the prices. I wonder who was asked!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    haha nice try BBC!

    Good to see people don't blindly follow whatever is put in front of them, and can actually think about the situation.

    Keep up the good work guys! :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    I want to know is why are we paying for it when we dont own the train service/lines etc shouldnt they be paying for it? or have I missed the point ?
    I guess you've missed the point then. Tracks are owned by Network Rail, not the train companies.
    Yet the train companies get the benefit of the network without having to shell out billions to build it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    I have been on the TGV in France & it is quality but the thing about the high speed rail 2 is it seems to be for the benefit of the big city power brokers in London, Birmingham, Manchester Leeds etc. What about improving rail services in Lincolnshire, Norfolk,Devon, Northumberland Cumbria etc or are we 2nd class citizens to the big city profs as in so much of national life.


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