The UK's worst train operator

Trains from above

Rail services are getting worse, with more delays for overpriced and unsatisfactory journeys, new research has shown.

The worst culprits in the UK are First Capital Connect and Northern Rail, which both scored a lowly 76% for customer satisfaction.
%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Overall only 82% of passengers are satisfied with their journey – a fall from 85% last autumn – according to the Passenger Focus spring survey.

The worst providers

Greater Anglia was the third worst company on the list, with a satisfaction score of 77%, which was a fall of 6% since last autumn. Southeastern and Southern were next in line with 78%.

Although not in the bottom five, London Midland fared particularly badly as its score fell from 87% to 80% which was the biggest significant drop in the study of 60,000 passengers.

The worst five companies are:
First Capital Connect 76%
Northern Rail 76%
Greater Anglia 77%
Southeastern 78%
Southern 78%

The best providers

At the other end of the scale First Hull Trains had the highest customer satisfaction score with 95% followed by Heathrow Express at 94% and Grand Central with 93%.

The biggest, and only, company to show improvement in the past year is Greater Anglia, and its score went from 73% to 77% - although not a great achievement as it was still in the bottom five.

First Hull Trains 95%
Heathrow Express 94%
Grand Central 93%
Virgin Trains 92%
London Overground 92%

Customer satisfaction

Overall only 42% of passengers think they get value for money on their train journeys. Southeastern scored the lowest in this area with a score of 31%, followed by First Capital Connect at 32% and South West Trains at 33%.

When it comes to the reliability of a train service, only 78% were happy – a fall from 81% last year. The worst provider in this area was London Midland, scoring 70%, followed by First Capital Connect at 71% and Northern Rail at 72%.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said there continues to be a wide gap between the better and weaker performing services – satisfaction with individual operators ranges from 76-95%

"Passengers are now the main overall funder of Great Britain's railway, so it is vital that their key needs are met. Given that performance is the key factor that underpins most passengers' general view of the railway, train companies and Network Rail must keep striving to get more trains on time," he added.

How to save on train travel

With prices rising, how can you get hold of cheap train tickets? Here are a few tips...

1. Rule number one of slashing the cost of train tickets is to book in advance. Tickets are available to book 12 weeks in advance. Sign up to the Trainline e-mail alerts to find out exactly when cheap fares for your desired journey are released.

2. Travelling in peak hours – essentially the morning and evening weekday rush hours – is one sure way to boost the price of your ticket. So if possible travel at other times.

3. If you're eligible for a Family & Friends Railcard, 16-25 Railcard, Senior Railcard or Disabled Persons Railcard, then get one! Even if you have to shell out £30 or so for the card, the savings you'll make over the year will likely offset the initial outlay.If you regularly travel around London and the South East, a Network Railcard could also save you a shed load.

4. Ticket splitting is a perfectly legal way to cut the price of your fare. In action, splitting involves buying two or three train tickets for one route, instead of getting a single fare, as occasionally the price of the separate parts will outweigh the whole journey fare price.

Make sure you keep an eye on the prices of two singles as well, as they may work out cheaper than a return. Bizarrely, kinks in the booking system may also throw up cheap first-class fares.
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