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
    0

    Comment number 761.

    740 - You're off topic but is it indicative of Thatchers motives that the so called "massively inflated wages" that the Unions were responsible for coincided with the narrowest gap between the UK's richest and poorest in recorded history (it's been growing ever since). BL failed because it designed singularly ugly cars and a lack of investment meant it fell behind in the technology race.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 760.

    I could wax lyrical about overcrowding and delays, but who listens ?
    My train today - Westbury to Bitterne, change at Southampton Central.
    12:44 to Portsmouth is delayed
    15 minutes later
    12:44 to Portsmouth is delayed
    30 minutes later
    12:44 to Portsmouth is delayed
    then . . . no mention of cancellation
    13:44 to Portsmouth on Time.
    2 and 3 coach trains between Major City centres are just crazy !

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 759.

    Whilst there is much room for improvement the train is generally cheaper when you factor in other costs of running a car, and for season ticket holders much cheaper. It is however far more expensive than on the continent and I do not accept that all route are subsidised, Greater Anglia for example pay a substantial multi million fee to government to run the route as do others.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 758.

    @ 730. Khuli

    Yet the subsidy is still higher than it was pre-nationalisation (even allowing for inflation) and so are the fares. Meanwhile the quality of the fancy new rolling stock is vastly inferior to what it replaced (the only reason it was unpopular was because it had been allowed to get dirty and tatty) and lots spent on "efficiency" improvements that seem to add to costs, not save them.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 757.

    739 John B
    I am shocked at the poor standard of personnel East Coast employ, last time I travelled a soldier heading back to Catterick had miss placed part of his travel warrant, which issued free by the army, this horrid woman tried to bully this hero with threats of the Police into parting with over £100 so he could go back to barracks to train to protect us, she was booded out of the carriage.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 756.

    #736
    I believe that in the 70s we had tax bands of 83 and even 98% in some cases, so surely there was plenty of money available?
    #749
    The people who ran nationalised services had massive salaries to, please don't assume that socialism will stop "fat cats". Perhaps if people were allowed to build, run and maintain tracks, then you would be able to choose. Besides, nationalisation doesn't = choice.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 755.

    I have little problems with the trains I catch. OK, so a few are late but only by a couple of minutes. The only problem with late trains is listening to the constant griping of other passengers, they are right pains. Most times the trains are late due to factors beyond the train operators control. eg lorry hitting bridge supports, cable theft. Anyways its better than driving in all those fumes.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 754.

    Who are these satisfied people? I did the survey for First Great Western and I thought my service was dreadful and pretty much always is. I can't see how anyone can be satisfied with the cost of train journeys.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 753.

    #723..I'm over 45 and I do remember BR,I used trains in the 60's & 70's and I don't remember ever having to stand,there were always seats available,although I do remember one trip to Cornwall in 1975 when the train had to wait for track work to take place,we were stopped next to a sewage works for an hour,in July with the heating stuck on,good job I had a seat that day.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 752.

    There are so many surveys on so many things that they have become a joke. The objectivity of the market research industry must be questioned. Ask any customer after any price increase on any product what they think and they will be disatisfied. Ask them a few months later and they will be happy again - its not rocket science.
    You have to wonder what the motives were in the timing of this survey.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 751.

    Successive governments have thought it acceptable for private companies to make profit out of the essential need to travel. Conveniently, passengers tend to blame operating companies for fare rises etc but all they are doing is passing on government policy. I used to use trains but have now started driving. There is little point deluding myself thinking public transport is run as a public service.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 750.

    Who will buy my unused return tickets which costs £1 on top of the £120 ticket I need, surly there is a big business for someone there! Every time someone gets a ticket buy a return and sell it to a fellow passenger who will benefit from this ludicrous pricing policy, this will stop them abusing us!

    It should cost half the cost each way, no wonder there are fights on trains because of this!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 749.

    You can choose which brand of tea to buy but you cannot choose which train to take, as there is only one rail track! Railway system should be re-nationalised to save the cost being skimmed by the fatcats.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 748.

    Until this month I commuted Manchester to Crewe. In Jan my return train was late every day. I now drive with 2 colleagues, much cheaper and we're always home before the train would get in.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 747.

    How about we take some of that wasted money out of trains in London and put them into cycling infrastructure? Please?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 746.

    The trains are overpriced, overcrowded and slow. To get from Wimbledon to Sheen by train - 45 minutes. Return journey by car - 5 minutes.

    If you want to go point-to-point along a route it's just about tolerable if you're travelling alone. As soon as two people travel together it's cheaper to drive, and if you need to change trains the delays are such you might as well drive anyway. Useless.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 745.

    Pique

    Where do there profits go!!! All revenue recieved by increasing fares goes back to the government for the rail investment programme.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 744.

    Post 2489 Ellen, you obviously don't do much commuting from Birmingham as then you would know that you would arrive at either Euston or Marylebone and not Kings Cross.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 743.

    How 'independent' is the Independent Survey I ask? About as independent as the IPCC I would imagine! Whilst those that can afford it and happen to be on the better routes are applauding, the survey responders, every other commuter thinks otherwise. As a taxpayer I am paying four times as much to fill ATOC's boots as I did for the old BR. At least with BR you knew what you were getting, unlike now.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 742.

    730.Khuli

    [And that subsidy is being reduced (which is what's pushing the prices up for the passenger) so you're complaining that prices aren't going up fast enough?]

    Hardly. TOCS get subsidies for running a franchise, plus fare revenue, plus delay compensations if they can prove Network Rail caused them delay. I reject that a reduction in subs means fare rises. Fares are profits.

 

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