Rail companies see passenger satisfaction dip below 50%

Published on Monday, 17 February 2014 09:31
Written by Govtoday staff

Which?'s third annual train satisfaction survey finds shockingly low levels of satisfaction with the majority of the companies we looked at failing to score over 50%.

Our new survey, of over 7,400 regular train passengers across all of the major train operating companies (TOCs), compiled scores based on passengers' overall satisfaction with a company and whether they would be likely to recommend it.

A shocking 11 of the 19 companies we looked at had a customer score of 50% or lower, with Greater Anglia and Southeastern scoring just 40%. Steaming ahead however, with a record score of 70%, was Merseyrail which has become the first train company to become a Which? Recommended Provider.

We also asked passengers about their overall experience and found:

  • Nearly one in five (16%) of all passengers experienced a delay on their last journey (this rose to 26% for commuters).
  • One in five (21%) of commuters said they were likely to have stood on their last journey.
  • One in 10 (11%) said toilets were not in good working order – this rose to 20% for London Midland Trains, 19% for Southeastern and 17% on First Capital Connect

One in 10 passengers (11%) told us they had cause to complain about the last journey they had taken, but three-quarters (75%) didn't officially complain. Of those who did complain, more than half (55%) were dissatisfied with how it was handled.

Which? is encouraging passengers to formally complain to their company and also share their experience on our website to build a picture of the problems they face. We will then present each train company with a dossier of consumers' complaints. Our site also has free information on passenger rights and what compensation is available for delayed or cancelled journeys.

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."

We also asked what passengers felt would improve their journeys and what they would be prepared to pay more for. Unsurprisingly, lower ticket prices were top of the wanted list (60%), with eight in 10 people saying fares were too high.

People also wanted to see more carriages at peak times (35%), promotions on ticket prices (29%), one in five wanted wi-fi as standard (20%) and improved punctuality and reliability (18% – rising to 29% for commuters only.) Around one in ten (12%) of passengers told us they want cleaner trains – First Capital Connect and Greater Anglia scored just one star for cleanliness on commuter journeys.

However, more than half (53%) said they don't mind paying more if they saw an improvement in service in return. Half (49%) would pay more for a more reliable service, and a similar number (48%) would pay more to guarantee a seat. Four in 10 (42%) would pay more if the money went towards new trains.

Source: Which?

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