The majority of rail passengers don't trust their train company to deliver a good service and feel they don't have their "best interests at heart", a new survey has found.
Passenger Focus questioned 4,000 commuters and travellers about how they felt about the train company they regularly use and found that many don't trust them to be truthful or communicate clearly when there are problems - especially when making station announcements.
The survey found that train operating companies in the South East and serving the London area had the lowest levels of trust. Just 22% of First Capital Connect Passengers had a high-level of trust in the firm, while just a quarter (25%) of passengers for both South Eastern and Southern had faith in them.
Nationally, South West Trains (26%) and First Great Western (27%) made up the rest of the bottom of the list, while Merseyrail (52%), Grand Central (48%) and Chiltern Railways (47%) were named as the most trustworthy.
The survey found the companies that keep travellers well-informed of problems such as late running trains are more trusted than those that don't. Clear, open and honest communication is "vital" to improving travellers' attitudes towards rail firms, as they tend to be more forgiving of problems if they are aware of what is going on, the report adds.
Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said: "There is much that train companies - and governments - can do to improve trust. It is important for train companies to get the basic service right ahead of everything else.
"Then building on closer relationships with their passengers is important. One way is through high-quality communication. Passengers should feel that train companies are 'on their side'."
The report also revealed that train industry only scores better in terms of consumer positivity than banking and energy. Airlines, supermarkets and the NHS are at the top end of the list.
Top five trusted train companies
- Merseyrail (52%)
- Grand Central (48%)
- Chiltern Railways (47%)
- Virgin Trains (46%)
- C2C (45%)
- First Capital Connect (22%)
- South Eastern (25%)
- Southern (25%)
- South West Trains (26%)
- First Great Western (27%)