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 801.

    Sky high rail prices will remain sky high, at first they will say it is for investment in the rail network, then it will indeed boost profits for the companies.

    Not wanting to get off topic, the mansion tax will be the same, set at a level then all our houses will appreciate until we all live in "mansions" eventually.

    All this expense with no improvement in service is why I take the car!

  • rate this

    Comment number 800.

    The timetables are also "adjusted" to try and ensure that trains aren't late, by allowing for ridiculously long times between the last and next to last stations - ie allowing 9 minutes between Edge Hill and Liverpool Lime Street - a 3 minute journey. To add insult to injury, the trains are filthy and overcrowded. The service is utterly appalling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 799.

    Bob Roberts

    Strange that the car industry today can produce good cars. Along with happy workers and Non British management style

    Could it be that the unions have got decent management, a living wage and a good product that they can be proud of rather than the cheap " it's only for the plebs" type vehicles of yesteryear alongside aggressive managers keeping the lower classes in their place

  • rate this

    Comment number 798.

    I think it is worth noting that the UK has a rail network which is over 150 years old.

    Most other countries rebuilt their railway in the 1950s/60s. Much of European railway was damaged and destroyed by the RAF or the Nazis, and so when it was rebuilt could take advantage of more modern tequniques/requirements. Asian railways likewise.

    Not ours, we kept ours open and running, & safe to use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 797.

    Commuting 12 years: Yes there are problems still - BUT considering the upgrades to rolling stock, to stations, improved punctuality I may grumble about cost, but I'd rather see improvements to services, rather than prices increase purely to pay-off the RMT from calling national strikes! In '94 National Rail Strike: inflation @2% RMT pay demand 11%! Good old days Mr Crowe? No Thanx!

  • rate this

    Comment number 796.

    All talk, no action! Bring Fares down!!! if the fare was lower i wouldn't mind standing or being overcrowded! but we pay sky high fares and still have to stand and be overcrowded.....all this talk about investing in the railways, that is fine but there is no promise of reducing fares once the need to invest is no longer there! instead the profits (the extortionate fares)will keep going to fat-cats

  • rate this

    Comment number 795.

    The rail companies performance stats should be taken with a mountain of salt. If a local train service is heavily delayed due to a national service causing disruption, they will ensure that train doesn't stop at ANY local stations to ensure it reaches it's destination on 'time' ie less than 10 minutes late to achieve its target. I observed this between Liverpool and Manchester.

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    779 wot utter tosh-all it requires is investment but our railways have been neglected for so long that we are suffering now for mistakes of time gone by-surely demographic trends showed that the population was increasing & that the UK, SE in particular, would need massive development, but out politicians in their infinite wisdom decided to waste it on 2nd homes and lining their own pockets-gits!

  • rate this

    Comment number 793.

    Although I don't use the Trains that much, i recently looked at taking a train to london from leicester, for 2 people it was £54 Return so has gone up loads since i last travelled down there, I decided to look at the coach, half the price, yes a little longer but not too much.

    The thing is prices are rising at prices that are un realistic and can not continue, we will all be broke soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 792.

    £3200 a year is what I spend to get on a crowded train. The train must be overcrowded - beyond Health and safety laws, its always late and I am now at the point of looking of ways to get money out of the system to compensate myself?! - can we 'the public' take the train company to court for being utter bonk?! LIVID! Answers on a postcard!

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    Half of rail firms have low satisfaction levels is because the trains offer very poor value, they are constantly late, the staff always strike at the most ridiculous times (public holidays). A rip off Britain serial offender. I have just come back from Australia where the train service was 100% better. I even lost a return ticket on one leg and the inspector let me off.That would never happen here

  • rate this

    Comment number 790.

    I don't understand the UK railways, and never have. It seems the only people who can are those who want to make it their life's work. Railways are the only British industry that doesn't seem to want to bother about making things more tolerable for the customers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 789.

    People in Europe during the 1940s were squashed in & pushed around by rail in much the same way, no one would listen to their grievance and they were ignored - does this sound familiar?

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    The trains are terrible - the staff however are normally wonderful. The sad reality for me is that having had awful experiences (of being dropped overnight in Newcastle mid-journey) I now fly 95% of the time (which is cheaper). People must stand up against this (my first step has been to go to the e-petitions website and sign one titled 'Consider the renationalisation of the UK's rail network'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    @772, So if it was all down to the Unions why did Germany and France both retain a manufacturing base despite levels of Union membership largely the same as the UK? And please don't claim a lower propensity for striking because the French make the British look rank amateurs on the collective protest front.

  • rate this

    Comment number 786.

    Southern has gone downhill since CEO Keith Ludeman retired.

    However the company are plagued by endless signal & power problems.
    As Network Rail are slow to correct failures,it was a mistake to have the railway infrastructure managed by a separate company.

  • rate this

    Comment number 785.

    If the original designs for trains/tunnels etc hadn't limited the width and height of the trains which can use the 'network' a lot of the problems would be far less pressing than they are. But, 150 years on, we're faced with the question....
    £35 billion for a fast network, or invest the same in redeveloping the current network for 'double decker' trains... slower, but with greater capacity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 784.

    I recently went to Taiwan and was astounded to see people taking pictures of a sign that said a train was 2 minutes late - I asked why people were taking pictures and was told that such a large delay was very rare.
    Meanwhile, I was 2 hours late to London on Friday because two trains in front of us had broke down. TWO!

  • rate this

    Comment number 783.

    Loving all the comments about how great the trains are on mainland europe.

    They may of been on time.

    But in Italy/france/Germany.
    They aren't clean, they aren't "safe" havens.
    Don't be fooled by the Fast super clean trains they use to zip around France on Top Gear.
    You have to pay a fair whack to get on those bad boys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 782.

    What is it that makes a good fast reliable rail service so unachievable in the UK?

    The French do it brilliantly, the germans do it admirably well, and the Japanese do it like no other nation alive, but we British find it impossible!

    Such massive expense and such a poor service is the laughing stock of the world.

    British Leyland on rails!? My experience of the UK rail service is awful!!


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