Rail satisfaction drops again

trainTim Ockenden/PA Wire/Press Association Images

It's hard to imagine how we could be less impressed than we already were with the trains. Too few trains, running too unreliably, with too many people on them, charging far too much: things seemed like they couldn't get any worse. However, we were wrong.

There was one way to reduce satisfaction levels still further: and the rail companies found it.

Prices

It seems that pushing the prices up gradually throughout last year was the final straw for many. In Passenger Focus' annual survey of customer satisfaction, the proportion who were satisfied with the value for money their fare represented dropped from 49% to 46%.

That's impressive. That's more than half of all the people using the service who are moved to speak out about how far it falls short of their expectations.
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Let's not forget that this survey was carried out at the end of last year - before a massive round of price increase in January pushed the cost into the stratosphere and led to increases of as much as 11%.

Not so bad

The train companies can take some comfort from the fact that other aspects of the journey didn't deteriorate quite so much. So, for example, 81% of passengers were satisfied with punctuality, compared with 82% last year.

Overall, the level of general satisfaction remained at 84%.

However, some train companies are clearly trying much harder than others. At the bottom of the scale was National Express East Anglia, which turned out the worst satisfaction rating of all the train firms, with a dismal 77%. Meanwhile Grand Central, which runs between London King's Cross and the north of England, managed a much more impressive 95%.

The survey also found differing levels of punctuality. It highlighted South West Trains and Chiltern as struggling to run their trains on time. Meanwhile they said there had been some improvements over the year for London Overground and Merseyrail

Efforts

The rail companies emphasised their efforts to improve services and cut the annual cost of the railway by £1.3 billion a year by 2019 - in order to keep a lid on price rises in the future.

However, for many this will see too little too late, as they squeeze onto their overpriced sardine tin and cross their fingers that they'll get home before their dinner is too cold to eat.

But what do you think? is your train service improving? Let us know in the comments.
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