Rail passengers give trains the thumbs-down

Customer satisfaction with train operators is getting worse, a survey has revealed. Passenger Focus's spring customer satisfaction survey found that just 82% of passengers are satisfied with their journey, falling from 85% in the autumn and 83% last spring.

Northern Rail and First Capital Connect fared worst, with satisfaction scores of just 76%, compared to First Hull Trains (95%) and Heathrow Express (94%), which received the highest levels of satisfaction.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said: "Passengers faced variable performance in the early part of 2013. There continues to be a wide gap between the better and weaker performing services – satisfaction with individual operators ranges form 76% to 95%."

South Eastern (78%), East Coast (86%), and Greater Anglia (77%) suffered the biggest declines in overall satisfaction, all falling by 6 percentage points from the autumn 2012 survey. London Midland suffered a 7 percentage point fall in overall satisfaction year-on-year; while Greater Anglia had the biggest improvement, increasing by 4 percentage points year-on-year.

Nationally, 42% of customers feel they are getting value for money, unchanged from spring 2012. First Capital Connect and South Eastern came lowest for value for money, with less than a third of their customers (32% and 31%) saying they were satisfied.

On punctuality and reliability, 78% of passengers nationwide are satisfied, falling from 81% in spring 2012.

Passengers' needs

Smith added: "Passengers are now the main overall funder of Great Britain's railway, so it is vital that their key needs are met. Given that performance is the key factor that underpins most passengers' general view of the railway, train companies and Network Rail must keep striving to get more trains on time."

But David Mapp, commercial director at the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), countered: "Train companies know that to be successful they must meet the needs of passengers and deliver high levels of satisfaction and value for money.

"Year-on-year passenger satisfaction is still at a near record high and this is because train companies keep listening to their passengers, resulting in big improvements in areas such as cleanliness and facilities at stations, and connections with other forms of transport."

More about