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 681.

    What to say new after 670 comments?
    How about the price and availability of car parking at stations?
    They want you to use public transport to reduce pollution and congestion so you drive to the station (too far to walk, no buses) and then you pay an arm and a leg to park there so you can use the train!
    Hypocritical and money-grabbing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 680.

    Recently went on a course in Manchester from Chester (approx 35 miles). Tickets £83.60 for the week. Add on £28 parking for the week. 8 mile drive to the station so diesel another £5 (there and back approx). Total = £116.60. Even at current diesel prices it costs me £40 / week to drive a return journey of 56 miles to work and back. And people wonder why there are complaints. Plain maths.

  • rate this

    Comment number 679.

    Living in sunny Scotland I have to say that I do not see the issues discussed, spent three days in London last week - train was 3 minutes early going from Glasgow to Euston - had a table for the whole family all the way down - all in all an excellent service.
    Always better than flying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 678.

    #661 samb-1488

    you found the caps lock button i see but pushed it at the end again

    so what does it matter if i live under a bridge

    what you mean trains arent delayed now and how much more will it cost


  • rate this

    Comment number 677.

    What do you expect, when most train companies are so tight with money they don't even empl,oy anyone to keep the toilets clean on long journeys.

    Thats how much they care about customer comfort & satisfaction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 676.

    I'll guess you've not done much reasearch. Trains from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool and many other locations will utilise HS2 south of both Manchester and Leeds to reduce their journey times by around an hour.

    We (and JPublic in my case) will need to agree to disagree on this one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 675.

    I am sure the criticisms of rail companies by passengers are well founded, but I wonder how well passengers would look if the roles were reversed and the companies did a survey on them ? Just a thought.Sometimes we get the service we deserve, and no, I do not work for a rail franchise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 674.

    Am I the ONLY person in the UK that actually thinks my service is good! My my local station staff all know me, I get a seat everyday to London and a train every 10 mins in rush hour, trains are cleaned of litter at destination. Its not cheap, but I have a gold season ticket and get extra discounts for additional travellers. I use the Chiltern line into Marylebone, and it's owned by German company!

  • rate this

    Comment number 673.

    UK state of the nation:

    Public Services:
    Inefficient, tatty, run on a shoestring, unhappy staff and customers

    Private Services
    Profit driven and generally a rip off, unhappy staff and customers

  • rate this

    Comment number 672.

    samb-1488 (532)


    Ahem! Many is the time I've seen the 9:55 from Luton swerve violently into a school playground just for fun. The drivers are complete psychopaths, I tell you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    I commute daily from Greenwich to London Bridge. It should be a 7 minute journey but practically every day we sit outside LB for 5-10 minutes for reasons that are never explained... Also you often see people physically struggling for air in the cramped, hot conditions and last week somebody actually passed out!

    I have a 1-3 travelcard so don't know what I pay for the privilege, but that's £1300!

  • rate this

    Comment number 670.

    Trying compare to compare road and rail costs can be difficult. Clearly a car costs more than petrol but then if you already own one and use it for the odd journey it could be argued many of the overhead costs are irrelevant.

    I understand the Treasury car rate is 45p /mile.

    It would be interesting to see some comparisons based on that figure.....

    Unfortunately not everyone can drive though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 669.

    How about freezing fares completely. The TOCs should spend their own money on investment FIRST before recovering it through fares when the benefits are proven. Second, set the "late" repayment at 5 mins to repay the WHOLE fare, 15 mins repay DOUBLE the fare. Finally, stop calling us passengers, calls us how the TOCs treat us - self loading freight (cash cows to be precise).

  • rate this

    Comment number 668.

    As a student who commutes to London I don't have the luxury of a car and, like many people, depend solely on public transport to get to work. The sad reality is that public transport is SO vital to our everyday lives that we cannot simply speak with our wallets and not take public transport. The rail services could charge more and continue to deliver poor services and we'd remain powerless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    Let me get this straight.
    Our railways suck - as it states in this article.
    The Government tries to announce record breaking spending on HS2 but they get slated an NIMBYS are out in force. The BBC had mostly quotes from people saying it was a horrendous idea.
    Cant we pull together and sort our railways out, the beginning of which is crossrail and HS2!

  • rate this

    Comment number 666.

    Compensation scheme??? What compensation scheme.

    S.ticket holders get a little voucher which you can't misplace until your renewal.
    It's specifically designed so that they know they will never have to actually give you the cash back.Its the private companies run by public sector incompetance. Tolls on the roads. Why should taxpayers compensate roads?

  • rate this

    Comment number 665.

    For a 1 hour 20 mins journey to London, the peak fare for workers has rocketed to £92 per DAY (note: this is steerage - not first class). The trains are rarely clean on homebound journeys, toilets disgusting or out of order, tables sticky with a day's worth of spilt drink and old food. For an elite fare, I expect an elite service, but it's not happening.

  • rate this

    Comment number 664.

    651. pique
    "you know who's more dissatisfied? . non rail users who are still subsidising ticket costs"

    And the worse or more expensive it gets the more of us move from being rail users (who appreciate the subsidy) to non-rail users (who pay the subsidy).

    It's doomed!

    (If the rail unions want nationalisation, they should make sure their staff on East Coast are brilliant and better than Virgin)

  • rate this

    Comment number 663.

    644, Tio Terry
    HS2 is only of use to a relatively small percentage of the population using 2 routes. It goes no further north than Manchester. Therefore, I would contend not essential, rather political.

  • rate this

    Comment number 662.

    The way the railways have been privatised is not really free market. The government should either go entirely free market or revert to nationalised. When the railways were built there was genuine competition, with some companies, for example the Midland railway being much more pro-business than others. Pointless to have the railways privatised, but no real competition - it allows profiteering.


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