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 701.


    "Family 5 Hitchin - London Bridge Sat - Rail £37 & 1.5 hr inc 10 mins walk using First Capital Chaos
    Vs. Drive & Tube
    29m drive to N London, £1 parking, £13 petrol, £6 tube fare ~ 1.5 hrs no walk."

    How do you manage to get a family of five on the tube (return presumably) from north London to London Bridge for £6?

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    A bit fishy that these survey results are so different. I completed the Consumers' Association one; I've never been offered the National Passenger Survey. Perhaps NPA should try the CA questions and see what comes up? The car drivers would be less smug if 1.5 billion train journeys were made on the already crammed roads instead. They benefit from the subsidies as much as the passengers do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    I noticed many comments on the extortionate pricing... Of course we'd all like the rail travel to be cheap... I'd be ok with paying what I pay now, expensive though it is (£254 monthly ticket from East Croydon to Woking) if the service would run properly! I was an hour late to work today due to overrunning engineering works, and this year so far both of my trains were on time only on TWO days!

  • Comment number 698.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    #688 T8-ehT8

    the reason its cheaper is because more trains to london stop at castle cary than westbury as some go via the avoiding line by-passing westbury . but you are right it doesnt make sense .

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    South West Trains suburban routes are a joke, overrunning of engineering works, punctuality, lack of information, adverse weather, and congestion out side Waterloo!!! And once you arrive at your destination late! a recorded announcement “Thanks your or travailing with SWT”

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    Family 5 Hitchin to London Bridge Sat - Rail £37 & 1.5 hr inc 10 mins walk using First Capital Chaos
    Vs. Drive & Tube
    29m drive to N London, £1 parking, £13 petrol, £6 tube fare ~ 1.5 hrs no walk. = Simples train is a total rip off especially for families & groups.

    Same for my weekly commute train cost per mile is more than car & the car covers 100% the journey where as the train is 70%

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    My husband travels from East Cambridgeshire to London in the 5 days a week...he works nights so travels out of peak times.We pay £450 a month for season pass and it keeps going up and up...the service is appalling especially in the autumn and winter.

    I don't know why fairs are so expensive & don't see why there can't be a reduced fair for season tickets if travelling outside peak hours

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    In Germany for less than £4,500 you can get a first class unlimited rail card for ALL German train services for year - in England you get a standard season ticket from Luton to St Pancras for the same amount.

    That's what's wrong with out railways - ridiculous fares.

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    I'm sick of non-rail users, especially motorists, complaining about 'subsidising the railway'. The same argument can be applied to any public spending. Who do you think pays for the roads?

    Why can't we expect a decent level of service and value for money in ALL of our public services, rather than playing into the hands of the 'divide and conquer' tactics of this and previous governments?

  • rate this

    Comment number 691.

    As I don't use the trains I find them quite acceptable and occasionally amusing. I do like to see the sad, miserable faces of commuters looking longingly out of the windows as they buzz past on their way to highly polluted and high density middens of humanity. If you don't like trains then you should move closer to your work, or get a job nearer your homes. Just stop moaning for Beeching's sake!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 690.

    South West Trains, by way of example, are utterly dreadful. I used to commute daily and now work largely from home as I just cannot call the commuter life an attractive one. Whilst daily commuting, last year there was not a single week that went past (sometimes it was daily) where there was not a significant delay (more than one hour) or cancellation. It is too expensive and no customer service

  • rate this

    Comment number 689.

    I'm sick and tired of public transport in general.

    Tomorrow for example I have an appointment 16 miles from my house. In a car it would take roughly 30 minutes to get there.

    By public transport it takes 90 to 120 minutes.

    You tell an employer you don't drive and they laugh at you!!

    Even if I did learn (at 35) to drive I'd be unable to run a car.

    Something needs to change...

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    I commute between Westbury (Wilts) and London each day. The season ticket is £270 p/w.

    I was told by the station staff that if I got a season ticket from Castle Cary to London, 20-30 mins further up the track from London, it costs £238. Same train, I just get off a stop earlier.

    So thats what I do.

    Sort out the crazy ticket proces, that would please a load of people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 687.

    Thanks to Beeching I don't have to worry about trains. Its just not an option.

  • rate this

    Comment number 686.

    662. thelostdot

    Brush up your history - the old rail companies owned both track and trains and didn't share them. There was competition of a kind eg LMS and LNER competed for passengers to Scotland via different routes, but in the main on a given railway there was only one operator. Apart from ownership of the track, there is no real difference between Virgin and LMS, or East Coast and LNER.

  • rate this

    Comment number 685.

    I pay £1500 a year for the privilege of using the trains. I have no other choice for getting to work.
    The train is advertised as taking 35 minutes, yet ever single day we are 10 minutes late due to congestion at London bridge. A small delay I know but when it is repeated every journey it is beyond ridiculous.
    Again next year the price will go up, without an apology for a terrible service

  • rate this

    Comment number 684.

    I am convinced the National Passenger Survey is a flawed survey. It is based on people being selectively handed paper surveys at railways stations, however most commuters like myself quickly enter and exit the stations and so don't end up being given a survey by staff, meaning those with the most experience of using the railways have no say in official figures.

  • rate this

    Comment number 683.

    At 34 weeks' (and very visibly) pregnant, my train was cancelled so I took a longer route to Bristol to work. Got there to discover further cancellations, and rather than be given a cab for the ride into the city centre, I was told to stand on a train to Swindon and wait until they were running back in this direction again. Complained, didn't get fully refunded for the cab. Vile.

  • rate this

    Comment number 682.

    Suppose Ill be accused of being some barmy commy or something but the only solution is to get nationalisation back. It will be painful and costly maybe but in the end it is the only way to get something decent again. Anyways hate the fact my hard earned is going into the pockets of greedy rail companies,.


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