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 601.

    579 Sparky... one cannot have poor punctuality... one can, however, have poor time-keeping. Punctuality means on the dot and if the train is not 'on the dot' it is not punctual, it's really 'off the rails'!
    Where I live, we have no Sunday service. Last train from Cardiff on a Saturday is 2115... that's the time when people want to be ARRIVING in the city for a good time, not be leaving for home!

  • rate this

    Comment number 600.

    I thought privatisation was supposed to produce cheaper improved service & better satisfaction?

    Well it has improved satisfaction - for the shareholders.

    The people involved in the "selling" of these lies should be put in stocks!

    How can it be cheaper to fly to many destinations than go by train?
    Aeroplanes are supposed to be more complex yet they are often cheaper.. on time and you get a seat!

  • rate this

    Comment number 599.

    I pay 4 grand to be crushed like cattle for 15 miles each way. The cost is my biggest expense after my mortgage. There is no alternative - I work in central London. And yet the rail companies still need a 50% subsidy - where is all the money going?

  • rate this

    Comment number 598.

    From the musical "Greasy Axles":

    There are worse things we could do
    than put up a fare or two
    Even though the neighbourhood
    Knows we're trashy and no good
    And the platform's like a zoo..
    There are worse things we could do.


  • rate this

    Comment number 597.

    Has anyone else noticed that 'train times' are not real. The time on the website, the time on the departing platform, the time on the arriving platform and then the times at all the intervening platforms all show different times for the same train on the same journey. THIS IS HOW NO TRAINS ARE EVER LATE

  • rate this

    Comment number 596.

    Much of the money is spent on 'jazzing up' the stations.....further income for the rail companies using our money. We even have to use our money to use the toilet. Dirty, late and old trains still run from 'jazzed up' stations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 595.

    Rail passengers are dissatisfied. Cats chase mice. On what basis can this be described as "news"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 594.

    Totally agree with 38. Even with parking charges of £80 per month, the car is still cheaper and quicker, even when carrying only the driver.

  • rate this

    Comment number 593.

    Wish I was on this survey, i would tell them how dissatisfied i am. Leiwsham station frequently shows the time to the next trian which doesn't have much bearing on reality, and if its delayed, none of the staff know why unless you make them phone someone up. It usually easier to get on a train that may be right and ask people already on it

  • rate this

    Comment number 592.

    I'd understand if the costs went into components and systems that make the railway more efficient (Trust me, maininting one is bloody expensive) but the problem is, is that the accounting departments are stopping engineers doing their jobs by denying them the money as the top brass has told them "we need profit, cut costs" All the money is going to the top brass pockets not reliability

  • rate this

    Comment number 591.

    There have been so many problems in the rail network generated by stupididty in the privitisation process, chronic under investment by private companies and high costs to the consumers.

    The most deregulated rail network in Europe, also one of the worst.

    And water...

    And electricity...

    And now DC and NC want to do the same to the Royal Mail?

    When will we learn? It doesnt work!

  • rate this

    Comment number 590.

    I depend on the trains for transport ot my job.

    It is crazy that a train conductor can tell me that the just after 9am train from London Paddingtion is late every day because of commuters getting on board at every stop. I am forced to take an erlier train (by one hour) to make sure I can get to work on time, and pay dearly for that. Back to a car for me, pity the environment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 589.

    Privatisation has established private corporate monopolies, mystery train schedules, poor service, above inflation fare rises, dysfunctional and disconnected services and neglected rolling stock.
    Who will step up to do anything about it????

  • rate this

    Comment number 588.

    This Gov inability to do joined up writing/thinking,proceeds-a-pace!
    Even if you live in the SE where the majority of jobs are located,you're having to travel further in order to afford accommodation to either remain employed or to seek new work&receive JSA.
    In correlation with these rules & attitude,the % of jobs that pay enough to make this travel economically viable don't exist!,options are?

  • rate this

    Comment number 587.

    I live in London, I'm not well paid but every now and then I like to head home to see my family. In the next few months my Young Person's Railcard is going to expire and the fare that I already think is extortionate is going to go up in a big way. I'll miss my mum and dad

  • rate this

    Comment number 586.

    A lot of the issues that passengers get frustrated with are easy to sort out. It is annoying when all traines are cancelled but worse if you can't say to your boss what is wrong and there are no updates on any website. If they gave an estimated time of when trains are up and running again some people could make effective alternative arrangements and ease crowding on platforms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 585.

    Operators provide the staff and operate the service, rolling stock company (bank) owns the train itself, a maintenance company maintians the train, and Network Rail provide the track, stations and signalling and power if the trains are electric. Electical power is supplied, via Network Rail from an energy supplier and they all pay tax, except for Network Rail. Still wonder why rail costs so much?

  • rate this

    Comment number 584.

    I wouldn't be surprised if satisfaction is lower right now because the train service this year has been diabolical, at least in South London on Southern and South West Trains. But - overrunning engineering works - that's not their fault. Suicides - that's not their fault. Faulty signals - that's not their fault. Underfunding at the infrastructure level (Network Rail) is the real problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 583.

    If it was down to me, I'd rip up every single mile of track that doesn't make a profit from freight and replace it with roads for the exclusive use of buses, cyclists (in dedicated lanes), taxi's, maybe even electric vehicles. As a selfish car user I'd even be happy for this to be paid for out of the road fund and petrol duties. Break the monopoly of mass transport, create choice and flexibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 582.

    "Under privatisation the annual rise in fairs has been lower than when owned by government, apparently" - good. The main difference though is when owned by government that profit is mostly put back into the rail network or used elsewhere in the country's economy, nowadays it's just used to fill the pockets of greedy businessmen. Start reinvesting some of that profit and satisfaction will increase!


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