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 781.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    I dread the one day a year when I have to drop my motorbike in for its MOT and get the train in to work. How people do that every day is beyond me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 779.

    The problem with services in Britain is ironically our incredible history of innovative engineering. We created our infrastructure so far ahead in time to others that we are left with an out-dated legacy. To have faster trains we'd need wider tracks; more carriages need longer platforms; signalling equipment needs replacing. Feasible for a government perhaps, but not individual train operators

  • rate this

    Comment number 778.

    no hit (with a silent "s")

  • rate this

    Comment number 777.

    765 Rabbitkiller

    What colour is the sky in your world?

    As Jim Royle would say 'Improved enormously my ar*e'!

  • Comment number 776.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 775.

    Which would you rather put more confidence in :

    A survey that says 85% of people believe that it’s sunny outside


    Your eyes as you see the rain lashing down as you look out of your window?

  • rate this

    Comment number 774.

    @ 693. tollpuddlemartyr

    My thoughts too. I live in Germany, have a Bahn card for 1st class use, I travel from south to north often enough on a 4 hour journey return for €110 euro in a very quiet clean modern carriage, uninterrupted wifi, weiss beer in a glass (real glass not plastic), all delivered with smile.

  • rate this

    Comment number 773.

    @Vince Roan - Don't forget to add 1/12 of your annual car tax and 1/12 of your annual car insurance to your petrol costs. Also car depreciation at perhaps £30 per 1000miles Also, if commuting into London, you might usefully add the congestion charge, and central London parking. Most people (reasonably) equate petrol against the headline rail fare, but life's never that straightforward

  • rate this

    Comment number 772.

    The wages that the unions demanded led to companies like BL being unprofitable, so they needed keeping alive by subsidies. When the workers weren't striking, they produced crap cars since the subsidies made them profitable anyway. The narrow gap coincided with our worst ever economic performance, showing that lefties would rather we were all poor together than to have some rich & some poor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 771.

    What is worse the operators only paid out 8% of the £184 million they received in compensation from National Rail last year. This was paid out in the form of vouchers which in my view isn't compensation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 770.

    Seems to me that the franchise model is flawed ! In my area South-eastern hold the franchise - There is no competition so they can duly 'mug' the commuter within the captive market that exists. The model needs revision so as multiple operators can exist under a single franchise area.

  • rate this

    Comment number 769.

    Don't know why Virgin come out OK, they have been hopeless too ever since they introduced those godawful Voyagers and Pendolinos, vastly inferior to the BR trains they replaced. At least I've usually found their staff very helpful and friendly. That, plus stations seem better kept, are about the only improvements since BR days.

  • rate this

    Comment number 768.

    Increase in rail fare by 4.2%
    Decrease in rail services by 4.2% per day (1533% p.a.)
    Services: Train cancellation but if you're lucky you'd experience delays on a daily basis, 100% filthy train & cannot cope with adverse weather (any of the 4 seasons).
    Price: Expensive ticket price that goes towards the big boss' annual holiday or their fancy cars, and not the rail services.

    Thank you SW Train.

  • rate this

    Comment number 767.

    I am no longer a regular (daily) rail user,but use them enough to realize things are not getting any better.The journey from my local Essex station to London now takes longer than it did in the sixties.Sats and Suns are a complete joke and have been for years now.Privatization simply has not worked.I agree with Mr Crowe,get rid of these useless private rail companies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 766.


    'More companies should promote working from home so users can no longer be held to ransom.'

    Couldn't agree more, if companies woke up to the fact that the inefficiency of the rail service is costing them money and did something about it, maybe the country would be better off. We'd certainly be a bit happier

  • rate this

    Comment number 765.

    Rail travel has improved enormously in the past 10-15 years. Newer trains, refurbished stations, better punctuality & an enviable safety record. Now ask those same people how satisfied they are with road congestion, road safety, the price of fuel and the delays at airports. The media love to criticise the railways, showing incredible ignorance & unwillingness to support a key growth industry..

  • rate this

    Comment number 764.

    Frequently went by train to/from Aberdeen to both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Only on ONE occassion did i arrive on time, every other time i was late. However Scotrail dispute this as in thier eyes a train is not late until it is 10% or more of its journey time overdue. the time from/to Aberdeen from either Glasgow or Edinburgh was 2hr 40 minutes, so it can be up to 16 minutes late before being late.

  • rate this

    Comment number 763.

    This would only be a news item if rail companies were doing well in satisfaction surveys!

    I just checked for tomorrow and East Midlands Trains are charging a shocking £77 for a single from Leicester to London on the 7.35, 7.42, 7.54, 8.18, 8.25. A distance of about 100 miles. So, if I buy a cheap ticket on Eurostar for £39 to Paris I have to add a colossal £77 to get from Leicester to London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 762.

    Dissatisfied ? more like down right furious. I recently had to travel into London for a week on the Waterloo line. I was shocked to find that at peak times it was as crowded as the Tube.. people squashed whilst standing!? If i had to travel to London everyday using trains I'd be suicidal within 6 months. a ridiculous state of affairs.


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