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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  • Comment number 621.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 620.

    Did you know that these "price rises for better services" have been talked about for 20 years now. I know this because i remember it in 1993, i lived in Oxford and they quite clearly they said it was so services could improve. THEY HAVEN'T! The fat cats, i see smiling on the front page of the i newspaper are laughing at us whilst they continue to take their bonuses for poor service

  • rate this

    Comment number 619.

    Just moved so two option - Train or Coach.

    Train = Drive to station (20 mins & £5.50 parking), Train - 1hr 15 mins & £5,428 PA. no seat, crowded, smelly, late, unhelpful staff, a thoroughly depressing experience.


    Coach = (walk to bus stop 5 mins), Coach journey - 1 hr 45 mins & £2,205 PA . Seat, comfortable, very clean, reliable, informed & friendly staff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 618.

    Some basic infrastructure in Scotland would be nice. Trains here take the "scenic" route - you're charged for every centimetre you travel. Its twice as fast and half the price to drive - if you can afford a car.

  • rate this

    Comment number 617.

    i am fed up with people moaning about rail fares etc if you travel you must pay the fare and not expect the tax payer to subsidise your chosen mode of transport . If you dont like it drive there .

  • rate this

    Comment number 616.

    "But a spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: "... Passenger Focus.. reported 85% of passengers are satisfied with their service - a record high."

    That's right: just believe the statistics you want to believe and we'll all get a better railway!

  • rate this

    Comment number 615.

    When you buy a season ticket you should register which train you usually get, if that train is cancelled/late you should automatically be sent a refund.

  • rate this

    Comment number 614.

    Take three stations on adjacent railway routes; each station at a similar distance from London.

    Annual season ticket prices for each station are as follows:

    Uckfield £2668
    Hassocks £3400
    Stongate £4412

    There is obviously something very wrong with the railway's ticket pricing structure. Certainly this does not appear to be equitable or fair.

    No wonder passengers are complaining!

  • rate this

    Comment number 613.

    I have a train station 10 minutes walk from my home, but with only 2 trains a day stopping there it's useless (unless I want to leave at 7am and return at 7pm). End up driving 8 miles, pay parking charges, then pay extortionate fares to stand on a train as there are no seats. As a result I now drive the whole way for half the cost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 612.

    I live in France. Two weeks ago I travelled from Blois in France to Rugby in the UK by train. Blois to Paris 28 euros,. London to Rugby 67 pounds. On the return train from Rugby, no one anywhere to be seen to explain the delays and platform changes to a crowded station. In France always someone near a departing train to let you know where it is going.

  • rate this

    Comment number 611.

    Interesting to note that the higest ever passenger satisfaction scores (98%) were recorded back in 2011 by Wrexham & Shropshire - initially an open access operator subjected to route restrictions and diversions and ultimately allowed to fail by its then-owners, citing a drop in passenger numbers and harsh economic conditions. Maybe as rail users, we're choosing to be dissatisfied?

  • rate this

    Comment number 610.

    South West Trains have to be over an hour late before its considered late...Nuff Said

  • rate this

    Comment number 609.

    Pull up the rails, sell the scrap metal to fund new roads that we can then pay a toll to drive on. I'm sure London Bridge would make a lovely multi-storey car park

  • rate this

    Comment number 608.

    This simply cant go on,travel must be affordable,Italy,Spain,France etc may be in dire straights financially, but the main causes of this are not their subsidies to their countries transport system's that make travel affordable for even the lower paid,and at least give the possibility of a mobile work-force for those who have jobs,love to see the results of a country survey on transport poverty?

  • rate this

    Comment number 607.

    @ 480.Mouchacho

    Common sense please. They're commuters going to work!! For many people, the only transport option is to get the train - there is no alternative. Companies won't be happy with hundreds of employees deciding not to turn up to work. They can either pay the fare, or risk getting fired!

  • rate this

    Comment number 606.

    do away with standard class and reinstate first ,second ,third and economy class ( a carriage with no seats just ropes to hang on to ) then the commuter can pay for how they want to travel

  • rate this

    Comment number 605.

    Doesn't this story fall into 'No s***t, Sherlock' category?

  • rate this

    Comment number 604.

    I feel sorry for the honest staff on the railways, they get a terrible press because of the lack of competence of their bosses

    However the lazy, ignorant, and self gratifying staff that seem to be the only ones I ever meet should all be sacked and replaced with people who care about serving the railway customer base

    They must remember the railway exists for the passengers not to give them jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 603.

    the train companies get find £150 per minute on delays so if a train is 30 minutes late that is a lrage number this then has a knock on effect of delaying other trains so the fines get higher and higher - who do you think eventually pays the fines? The people that buy the tickets. This means that the worse the service the higher the fares.

  • rate this

    Comment number 602.

    I live within 5 minutes walk of a main station and my workplace is within a 10 minute bus ride; however, it still takes twice as long and costs twice as much as driving, and that's for a single person in the vehicle. Is it really any wonder why the majority of hardworking people still choose to travel by road?


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