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 581.

    with what the rail companys charge in ticket prices and above inflation rises its no surprise people are unhappy about being crammed into a glorified veal crate . its no wonder there are so many cars on the roads as its still cheaper and more dgnified to drive everywhwere than go by cattle train .

  • rate this

    Comment number 580.

    Season Ticket only (monthly and yearly) during peak times please. Its frustrating to sit for two hours a day wondering why I pay over £2000 per year for the worst service in the uk. Trains are Delayed, dirty, smelly, over crowded - Every day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 579.

    The biggest issue for me is poor punctuality of the service. The service has become poorer over the past year, virtually every evening the trains from Paddington to Bristol are delayed by between 5 and 20 minutes and that's just the good nights. At least once a week a delay of over 30 minutes happens.. Need more carriages and punctuality.. when will it happen?

  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    I have started to keep a spreadsheet every week showing the lateness, cancellation or anything else detrimental to travel, of trains. I send it in every week and have told them I will continue to do this.

    I will claim my compensation whenever the trains aren't up to scratch. It's not just lateness or cancellations. The number of times I have sat in a carriage that stinks of raw sewage!

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    The passenger focus survey having a higher sample size doesn't make it any more valid so I don't know why this is being brought up. A higher sample size can decrease variance, but if it's based on a flawed sample that suffers from bias it's still useless.

    I trust Which much more than I do passenger focus quite frankly, 85% satisfaction is a joke, it's not even close to that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    Instead of spending £38bn on HS2 this money would have a far greater impact on improving the existing network's capacity including giving passengers a seat with sufficient legroom?

    It is basic railway engineering not rocket science!

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    I think the RMT Union should run one of the franchises and show us how its done

  • rate this

    Comment number 574.

    I commute from Huntingdon to London. In the past couple of months the trains have been late about 50% of the time. Frustratingly, they are delayed by under 30 minutes so I can't claim compensation (just under on may occasions). The trains are also dirty, smelly, bubblegum encrusted and either no heating in winter and too much in summer. For just under £6000 I would expect slightly more....

  • rate this

    Comment number 573.

    To be honest, there is NOTHING that the rail companies do to attract commuters or even ordinary passengers to their trains. Reduced fares would, at least, retain current levels of commuting and possibly attract a few more from the roads. But, of course, this would require some sort of subsidy from the government.
    Oh, silly me... this is the government that takes money, not gives it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 572.

    British railways. A big trough and too many pigs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 571.


    Genuis!! I've been trying to figure out what I've been doing differently that means I haven't been sick for well over 3 years; previously, I'd catch 3+ colds a year... You've hit the nail on the head. I bought a car and stopped taking the tube to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 570.

    I've always found that its cheaper by CAR!

  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    I travel on London Midland everyday from Northampton to London Euston.
    My train fares increased, the service is worse than ever, never running on time. The credit advertised in the press at the back end of last year, for season ticket holders because of the shocking service has never materialised. LM don't care from the top of the company down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 568.

    @ 560 Morpheus
    "In my childhood and early youth I used the trains regularly, every day. Never once was a train cancelled and only once in a blue moon were they late. "

    lol, you must be trolling! In BR days, train services were TERRIBLE!!!
    Prices might be ridiculously high now, but the service now is no worse, in fact, i would argue it is better!

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    I'm not really surprised by this, although I have to confess that I was very surprised by the recent survey conducted by train companies which reported high levels of satisfaction.

    The power of statistics is not in compiling information to make it accessible, but, as demonstrated by the National Rail Passenger Survey, if there is a motivation to skew the data, this is easily possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.

    I think its safe to say you are either a troll looking to provoke some sort of reaction or just incredibly stupid?
    Since privatisation the rail companies have increased fares above inflation year in year out. They need to get back to basics.
    On time
    and once again ON TIME.
    Until then cars will be a 1st choice for many .

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    @561- those are sunk costs and would be suffered anyway (unless you go without a car completely).

    So be sure to compare incremental costs with incremental costs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    533: Do you have any idea what the cost of re-nationalising the railways would be to the taxpayer?
    Just let the current franchise expire, set up a Government owned company (Like Networkrail) with no shareholders and get them to run it. East Coast has been running this way for years since the last franchise holder handed it back to the government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    A key benefit of rail privatisation was supposedly to save the taxpayer money. State-funded student grants and tuition fees were abolished to save the taxpayer money. Anyone here noticed their income tax reduced significantly after either of these events? Nah – me neither. Expect the same if they ever privatise the NHS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    I am a regular commuter. I KNOW when I want to catch the train on a daily basis. If I am planning a trip away , I usually know when and where and what mode of transport to go by. Trains are now like aeroplanes , a finite capacity . You CANNOT just go a flight on the spot! It should be the same for trains. The day of "on demand" is gone until the whole is restructured and it will not be.


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