Overall satisfaction hits 83% after period of stable performance


There has been a significant increase in overall satisfaction with railway journeys


Rail passengers in London and the South East are more satisfied with their journeys after a long period of patchy performance. The result has been a significant increase in overall satisfaction with railway journeys in the latest National Rail Passenger Survey.

Published this week by independent watchdog Transport Focus, the Spring 2017 edition of the survey found that 83% of passengers were satisfied with their overall journey experience. This is three percentage points higher than Spring 2016, and is the highest score achieved in a Spring survey for five years.

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith acknowledged that the improved figures reflected a period of more stable performance, but warned that the recovery was “fragile” (see panel).

No individual train operating company experienced a statistically significant decline in overall satisfaction, but more than a quarter (seven) out of the 26 companies surveyed saw increases. The biggest year-on-year improvement was at Govia-owned Southeastern, which achieved an increase of 10 percentage points.

Open access operators Heathrow Express and Hull Trains achieved the highest overall satisfaction scores (97%), and Merseyrail was the highest rated franchised operator (94%). At the other end of the table, the three lowest scoring operators are all part of the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise.



Anthony Smith, Chief Executive, Transport Focus:
“Passengers using services in London and the South East have seen an improvement with an increase in overall satisfaction from 79% last year to 82% this year. Having said that, there is some way to go to reach a more acceptable position. Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Southeastern have the lowest scores. These green shoots are fragile and need nurturing. This recovery will be under pressure from upgrade works, industrial relationship problems and rising passenger numbers. So the industry needs to keep a relentless, ongoing focus on performance and reliability.”

Lianna Etkind, Public Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport:
“2016 was a miserable year for passengers, so we’re glad to see levels of passenger satisfaction have now returned to where they were two years ago, but there’s still lots more to be done to win back passengers’ trust. Less than half of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train travel, and with regulated rail fares set to rise by around 4% in January the government must step in and freeze fares, or risk further alienating passengers. This report also shows the need to break up monster rail franchises into smaller, more focused franchises. The UK’s largest rail franchise, GTR, languishes at the bottom of the satisfaction league, whilst once again small operators are top of the table.”


This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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