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 561.

    #38 Vince, when you calculated your petrol cost, did you also include the insurance, tax and depreciation costs of your car? Thought not!

    Be sure to compare like-with-like!

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.

    I am appaled at the state of the railway system. The last 5 times that I have travelled between Chipenham and London, I have had to stand. 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. Now cancellations and late trains are the norm and not the exception. Bring back British Rail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 559.

    I would love to know who they survey. I travel from Winchester to London every day and we all comment on how ghastly the service is and we can do nothing about it.the government has to have much more teeth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 558.

    Rail fares should not be greater than the 25p per mile allowance HMRC approves for business use of a private car. Weekly, monthly and annual season tickets should reflect 10, 15 & 20% discounts from this rate. Simple. Forget the above inflation stick-it-to-the-commuter rises.

  • rate this

    Comment number 557.

    Insufficient legroom (when you can get a seat) makes for an uncomfortable journey and with inflated fares of course this is going to lead to significant customer dissatisfaction.

    Why does this come as a surprise?

  • rate this

    Comment number 556.

    I don't find punctuality in the Stafford area too bad, although I find cattle-class uncomfortable particularly on Cross Country carriages. I would like it if manufacturers could lay their carriages out more like the London Midlands ones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 555.

    Its far cheaper to travel by road AND... I leave when I want, Arrive when I want (most of the time) and park wherever I want. I was astounded to find no seats available given the price of the fare. I will never touch a train again if other options are available.

  • rate this

    Comment number 554.

    Why would anyone be surprised by this? I pay over £1000 a year for what should be a 15 minute (each way) commute for filthy and overcrowded trains, regularly late and often cancelled, dilapidated stations with leaky roofs.

    I'm now paying 30% more than when I started a few years ago, yet the service is worse and the trains filthier.

  • rate this

    Comment number 553.

    All of these problems can be firmly laid at the feet of the Nazi government in Germany in the 1940s.

    If they'd had a bit more brawn they would have smashed through the six Spitfires we fielded, and completely flattened the railway network, which would have resulted in us getting a nice shiny new one like they have in France.

    Curse our Tommy pluck!

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    The train companies and their ridiculous fares are being propped up by half their passengers putting the fare on expenses. 1 person who wants to travel any kind of distance for leisure would be stupid to travel by train, 5 people doing the same would be insane AND they'd all have to get TO the station and have no way of getting about at the other end. Trains are the future? I don't think so!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    Train from Brighton to Croydon last night was severely delayed - should have been 45 mins, but took twice that. Reason - electrical failure.

    Bring back steam trains - would be more reliable and at least would look nice!

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    Only 50 % dissatisfied ??

  • Comment number 549.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    Maybe it is time to have some genuinely independent method whereby each utility and essential service is scrutinized to see if it should be brought back into public ownership to ensure the public are no longer being ripped off.

    This might mean an initial cost to the general taxpayer.....but any increase in taxes would be more than offset by having decent, fairly priced, services and utilities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    And this is a surprise why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    Well what a surprise! No I'm not being sarcastic, I'm genuinely surprised it's only 50%.
    Just had a 6.9% rise on my route, but with an extra change putting another 30 mins on. What a rip-off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    Actually the basic rail infrastructure is pretty good in this country compared to a lot of the world. However the ticketing system is a joke, & ticket prices shocking. It is a disgrace that taxpayers give a 3.5bn subsidy while share holders get dividends. And the fragmentation of privatisation hinders development.

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    533: Do you have any idea what the cost of re-nationalising the railways would be to the taxpayer? I certainly don't. Until the cost of doing so and the benefits and drawback are clearly set out you have no right to shout that nationalisation would be better! Im not saying it wouldnt be better but the real facts have not been put out, "grass always greener" comes to mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    Stop moaning and ride a bike.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    its no problem at all if you are an Etonian Tory MP, who travels EVERYWHERE at the tax payers expense!


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