The best and worst rail networks

17 February 2014

The majority of train passengers are unhappy with the service they receive, a comprehensive survey has revealed, with just 40% of passengers satisfied with the performance of Southeastern and Great Anglia rail.

Which?'s third annual train satisfaction survey questioned 7,400 regular passengers and commuters and found low levels of satisfaction across the entire rail network, with 11 of the 19 train operating companies achieving a customer score of 50% or lower.

Propping up the table was Southeastern and Great Anglia with scores of 40%, followed by First Capital Connect with 41%.

The survey paints a gloomy picture of train travel in the UK, with nearly one in five (16%) of all passengers stating they had suffered a delay on their last journey, a number which rose to 26% for commuters.

Over a fifth (21%) of commuters said they were likely to have stood rather than sit on their last journey and 11% said the toilets on their regular service were not in good working order.

One in ten passengers (11%) said they had reason to complain about the last journey they took, but 75% didn't officially complain to their operator. Of those who did, more than half (55%) said they were unhappy with the way it was handled.

Constant failings

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: "It's disappointing to see some train companies consistently falling down on the basics of customer service, with dirty and overcrowded carriages and toilets that don't work.

"Seven rail franchises end in the next two years and we want to see passengers' experiences put right at the heart of the tender process so companies respond to consumer expectations and can be held to account if they don't."

Unsurprisingly, top of the passengers' wish-list for improving their service was lower ticket prices with 80% of people saying they were far too high. More than a third (35%) wanted to see more carriages at peak times, 29% wanted more price promotions, 20% wanted wi-fi as standard and 18% wanted improved punctuality and reliability – a figure which rose to 29% for commuters only.

12% of passengers said they wanted cleaner trains, with First Capital Connect and Greater Anglia scoring just one star for cleanliness.

However more than half of passengers (53%) said wouldn't mind paying more If they saw an improved service in return, 48% would pay more to guarantee a seat and 42% would pay more if the money went towards new trains.

The best operator was Merseyrail, which achieved a score of 70% and has become the first operator to become a Which? recommended provider. C2C, which operates between London, Tilbury and Southend was the best scoring commuter service with a score of 67% overall.

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