With less than half of rail passengers satisfied with ticket prices at nine TOCs, Passenger Focus warns that the era of massive fare hikes must end.

The era of massive fare hikes for rail passengers must end, said Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, last week.

Smith was speaking as the rail consumer watchdog published new figures which show a fall in satisfaction levels with value for money offered by train operators.
The Spring 2011 National Passenger Survey showed just 44% of rail users were ‘satisfied’ with the value for money offered by their ticket – down from 48% in Spring 2010, although higher than the 40% achieved in 2008 and 2009.

Satisfaction with value for money was 39% for train operators in London and the South East, falling to 32% at First Capital Connect and Southeastern. Less than half of passengers were satisfied with fares at nine train operating companies.

However, satisfaction with fares looks set to fall even further. The next three years will see regulated fares set at inflation plus 3%. In addition, train companies can
alter individual fares by up to an extra 5% on some routes, as long as the overall rises for particular routes are balanced by reductions on others.

“These scores are a salutary reminder of just how much some passengers are paying to use the railway,” said Smith. “The next three years will see passengers hit by above inflation fare increases – this must be the end of the era of massive fare hikes.

“Passengers are paying more than their share. It is now up to the industry to reduce its costs.”

Overall satisfaction remained unchanged at 84%. The newly-enhanced London Overground saw a massive year-on-year increase in satisfaction levels of 17 percentage points – 89% of passengers are now satisfied. This figure rose to 96% on some of its routes – the highest ever score for a franchised operation.

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