Rail passenger satisfaction rises for first time since 2012


Rail passenger satisfaction in Britain has risen for the first time since 2012, according to research.

A survey of more than 28,000 passengers found a slight increase in overall satisfaction to 83% in autumn 2015 - up from 81% year-on-year.

The operators with the three lowest ratings were all in the South East, where long-running improvement work at London Bridge station has caused disruption to services.

Thameslink had the lowest proportion of satisfied passengers at 73%, followed by Southeastern (75%) and Southern (78%).

Nationally the overall score for commuter satisfaction was 76%, compared with 85% for business travellers and 90% for passengers on leisure trips.

The proportion of passengers satisfied with the value for money of the ticket nationally was 48% - up from 46% in autumn 2014 - but the figures vary significantly for different regions and routes.

Passengers using the non-stop Gatwick Express between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport are least likely to be satisfied with their train fare at just 37%.

The highest satisfaction score for ticket prices was recorded by open access operator Grand Central, which does not receive a subsidy or pay a premium to the Department for Transport.

Some 76% of passengers using its services - which run from Sunderland and Bradford to London - believe they get value for money.

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: "It is good to know that more people are satisfied with their journeys by train but we know that there is more to do to keep improving and to give passengers the excellent services they expect.

"Our railway is benefiting from one of the biggest investment programmes in its history, major improvement work that is producing better stations, better trains and better journeys.

"We are sorry when people do not get the service they deserve. We never want people to suffer delays or disruption. Train operators and Network Rail work hard together every day to deliver a better, more punctual railway and to give people better information when things do go wrong."

Independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus carried out the survey.

The organisation's chief executive, Anthony Smith, said: "Passengers must be involved much more closely in the planning of future big investment programmes, such as at Waterloo and Euston.

"In addition, these schemes should have realistic expectations about performance and price freezes built in from the start. The deserved credit for the investment will be much harder to claim otherwise."

Rail Minister Claire Perry said the overall satisfaction - which is at its highest level since autumn 2012 (85%) - was "a welcome sign that our record investment is starting to deliver results".

She added: "There is clearly much more to be done which is why we are continuing to invest to reduce crowding, cut journey times, and improve the passenger experience."