Half of rail firms have low satisfaction levels, survey finds

Passengers waiting for a train Which? said many passengers were fed up with trains being late, overcrowded or dirty

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More than half of train companies have a customer satisfaction score of 50% or lower, a survey by the consumer group Which? has found.

Only 22% of the 7,500 rail users in the survey felt their service was improving - despite big fare rises last month.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said this was disappointing as most travellers could not "shop around".

However, last month a larger survey suggested the number of satisfied rail passengers was at a record high of 85%.

The National Passenger Survey by Passenger Focus asked 31,626 travellers, while the Which? survey was compiled from responses from 7,500 regular rail users.

The most popular rail company, according to the Which? survey, was Virgin Trains (67% satisfaction) which almost lost its West Coast main line franchise in October.

Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: "While taxpayers continue to fund the rail industry to the tune of £3.5bn every year, rail companies must do better and the government needs to hold them to account on behalf of passengers and taxpayers."

'Basket cases'

Start Quote

With 1.5 billion train journeys made every year and eight of the 17 UK rail franchises up for grabs in the next two years, customer service should be top of the agenda for every train operating company”

End Quote Richard Lloyd Which?

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: "It is about time these basket case private train companies were booted off Britain's railways for good and their franchises returned to public ownership."

But a spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: "The independent watchdog Passenger Focus surveys up to eight times as many people a year and last month reported 85% of passengers are satisfied with their service - a record high."

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "With 1.5 billion train journeys made every year and eight of the 17 UK rail franchises up for grabs in the next two years, customer service should be top of the agenda for every train operating company.

"Passengers tell us they are fed up with trains that are delayed, overcrowded and dirty. This is especially disappointing as many commuters can't shop around or change the company they travel with," he added.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    Conservative Side Story :

    Free Market
    Say it loud and there's music playing
    Say it soft and it's almost like praying
    Free Market, I'll never stop saying
    Free Market Free Market, Free Market


  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    I travelled by train regularly on weekdays last year. The only time I was handed the Passenger Focus Survey was on a Saturday afternnoon on an empty platform.

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    Rial Passengers, paying for "Beef" getting "Horse", for the last 10 years...

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    I stopped using the trains over 5 years ago as it was cheaper to drive a 3 litre BMW into town! As a bonus I haven't had a cold for years !

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    arriva trains are pants.
    always late,rude aggresive un helpful and over paid staff.
    and a pricing system that I need to incorporate into my pay rise scale.

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    Anthony Smith’s salary as chief executive of Passenger Focus has risen from £95,000 in 2008 to £122,000 last year.
    Despite claiming to be independent, the bulk of Passenger Focus’s£6.4million budget last year came from theDepartment for Transport.
    ‘At no time during our sponsorship by DfT have they ever tried to control what we do or say,’ he told Metro.
    So that's all right then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.

    Am I naive? Providers of services used to invest through shareholders to gernerate profit. thereby rewarding investors for the risk they tookby means of dividends.

    Public service providers now raise prices in order to finance future investment whilst still paying shareholders high dividends.

    Something wrong here surely?

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    I totally agree with the large number of people who are saying its the quality of the journey that matters, not the speed. A clean, comfortable, non-congested train running on time (and ideally frequently) is far, far better than one which arrives slightly earlier but the journey was horrendous! Passengers are saying this, come on "decision makers" listen to us!

  • rate this

    Comment number 533.

    Tory MP's believe that the customer should pay all the costs (no subsidies) - I have the letter from my MP to prove it. They don't believe in cheap public transport as a state asset .... Oh and the rail unions did very well wage wise out of Privatisation as well (drivers £45k +).

    Nationalise, and do it now.

  • Comment number 532.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 531.

    1geoffskise 506 comment.

    Good point. Train companies compete on the Brighton to London main line and battle it out with super off peak cheap fares as low as £5, but last week a First Capital Connect train broke down. A Southern train was behind it. Diffferent type of train, no universal coupling arrangements, so couldn't push or pull it out of the way. Result...line blockage!

  • rate this

    Comment number 530.

    Northwest rail is poo on a stick. Same with Manchester's metro link.

    There doesn't seem to be enough transport running at the critical times, couple with that the fact that there are delays, then your lucky to get on the tram/train.

  • rate this

    Comment number 529.

    Train from Faversham to York. Return next day £197.00 (4hrs 30 mins approx) (plus taxis from Station to Hotel)

    Diesel Faversham to York (Corsa Van) £50.00 (5hrs approx) No taxis required.

    Do the Maths. Trains will so be a thing of the past. I say Build an outer M25. (toll it) Start from there.

    The rest will follow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 528.

    Longer trains, cheaper fares AND MORE SEATS, all of these would vastly improve our current DISSATISFACTION

  • rate this

    Comment number 527.

    Seriously, if you have a choice, who's not going to take the car instead? Rail travel is absolutely at the bottom of my list of last resort when it comes to travel and I pity anyone who has to rely on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 526.

    ferrariman15 (504)

    "people who say HS2 is a white elephant...
    It is not just about shaving 40 mins off London - Birmingham travel time."

    Yes, everybody says "high speed" but the speed is irrelevant - it's the capacity. Travelling at more MILES PER HOUR won't cure congestion - the ability to handle more PEOPLE PER HOUR will cure congestion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 525.

    "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the TRAIN company"

  • rate this

    Comment number 524.

    I must say that the price of travel is far to high, from Wolverhampton to London Euston it is around £100 return, and if you go peak its £120 one way. This together with the cleanliness of the trains and the amount of room it is hardly surprising.

  • rate this

    Comment number 523.

    Dilema is simple-If you have a government claiming to be 'Green' and putting huge premiums on fuel & car prices,then the Tax Subsidised mass Public Transport System should be substantially discounted below the cost of driving anywhere.In the UK however,travelling @ rush hour by Train to work is ALOT more expensive than driving-utterly reversing the logical equation. Its not just unfair,its CRAZY

  • rate this

    Comment number 522.

    All the evidence you want of bad services and high prices and bad service it wont make any difference.
    Re-nationalisation is the only option.


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