Passenger survey: the best and worst of British trains

Feb 17, 2014

Delays, dirt and expensive tickets: survey reveals a rail system that's still failing to deliver

PASSENGERS travelling with the majority of Britain's train companies are dissatisfied with the service provided, according to a survey by consumer group Which?. Out of 19 operators, 11 were given satisfaction scores of 50 per cent or less in the survey of more than 7,400 passengers.

So, what were people unhappy about?

Four in five passengers said fares were too high, with lower ticket prices at the top of the survey's most-wanted list. Ten per cent said toilets were not in good working order and 12 per cent called for cleaner trains, with First Capital Connect and Greater Anglia receiving the lowest scores for cleanliness. One in four said the last train they travelled on was late, while one in five had been forced to stand. Passengers also called for more carriages at peak times, promotions on ticket prices, wi-fi as standard and improved punctuality and reliability.

Which train company was the worst?

At the bottom of the table were Greater Anglia and Southeastern, which run commuter services out of London, while Merseyrail, a self-contained network around Liverpool, came out on top.

How does Britain compare to other countries?

Despite the gripes revealed by Which?, a separate survey by the European Commission concluded that passengers in the UK were more satisfied with their rail journeys than those in almost any other country in Europe. In a survey published in December, 78 per cent of UK passengers gave a "good" or "high" rating to their train company, beaten only by Finland with 80 per cent. These results are more likely to please Britain's industry body, the Rail Delivery Group, which today cited similar figures seen in another survey by watchdog Passenger Focus last month. This research showed that four out of five passengers were satisfied with their overall journey.

How can British train services improve?

Richard Lloyd, the executive director of Which?, says he wants passengers' experiences put "right at the heart" of the tender process when seven rail franchises end in the next two years. Companies need to "respond to consumer expectations" and be "held to account if they don't", says Lloyd. In the Daily Telegraph, Graeme Archer believes the anger we feel about our train services stems from impotence over improvements. "How about some real empowerment," he suggests. "Let season-ticket holders vote on the criteria that should be used when selecting the provider of the service. Our service."

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