Rail union 'disbelief' at new passenger satisfaction report


Transport - London Bridge Station


Rail union leaders have expressed "disbelief" at an official report on passenger satisfaction levels, saying their members were having to cope with overcrowding, unhappiness with delays and complaints about fare prices on a daily basis.

See also: Rail firms should be praised if they run on time, says Tory

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

But unions pointed to other information in the report showing that over half of Britain's train companies showed a fall in passengers' satisfaction with enough room to sit or stand.

A total of 15 out of 26 operating companies saw their score drop, while satisfaction with punctuality fell for nine of the 26 operating companies.

There was a big drop for satisfaction with toilet facilities on trains. Fifteen of the 26 companies saw their score fall.

Unhappiness with luggage facilities was most widespread of all. Here, 16 of the 26 companies showed a fall in passenger satisfaction.

The report was published after another week of delays and disruption to services because of signal failures, brown down trains - and strong sunlight.

See also: Four of the best English railway journeys

Incidents on Monday included:

:: A broken down train near St Austell in Cornwall which delayed Great Western Services by up to 30 minutes.

:: A broken down train between Aberdare and Mountain Ash which led to buses replacing trains on Arriva Trains Wales.

:: Southeastern services were also replaced by buses because of a signalling problem between Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge, while other services were hit by strong sunlight.

:: Southern Trains and South West Trains services to London were also delayed.

Tuesday:

:: Emergency engineering work at Crayford caused disruption to Southeastern journeys between Dartford and London.

:: Great Western Railway services were hit by a broken down train at St Erth in Cornwall.

:: Signalling problems between Whitehaven and Workington caused delays of up to 50 minutes to Northern Rail journeys between Barrow-in-Furness and Carlisle.

:: Signal problems at London Waterloo led to rush-hour delays to South West Trains services.

Wednesday:

:: Great Western Railway and Southern services were hit because of a problem at a level crossing near Ford.

:: ScotRail services were affected by a signalling problem at Glasgow Queen Street, while an overhead wiring problem at Warrington Bank Quay caused disruption to services.

:: Great Western Railway, South West Trains and Southern services were affected by a signalling problem at Havant.

Thursday:

:: Southern services affected by a signalling problem at Lewes.

:: Southeastern hit by delays of up to 25 minutes between Dartford and London Bridge because of a signalling problem.

:: Southern was also affected by a signalling problem at Ashurst, which meant that trains could not run between Oxted and Crowborough.

:: A problem near Berwick-upon-Tweed caused delays of up to 45 minutes to trains between Edinburgh and Newcastle.

:: South West Trains services again hit because of a signalling problem at London Waterloo.

Friday:

:: CrossCountry and Virgin Trains East Coast hit by overhead wire problems at Alnmouth.

:: East Midlands Trains and Thameslink services between Luton and London affected by a broken down train.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA union, said the official statistics "buried bad news" about passenger dissatisfaction with rail travel.

"Commuters are enduring among the most overcrowded conditions in Europe, with the highest prices and the most confusing ticket tariffs, with rolling stock so old, especially in the north, where passengers say it should be called a laughing stock.

"Privatisation isn't working, and passengers are fed up."

Mick Cash, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: "People were stunned by claims of satisfaction with train companies' performance.

"The reality is being crammed on clapped out, overcrowded and unreliable services on a daily basis, with the private operators laughing all the way to the bank.

"There should be a proper, scientific survey of passenger satisfaction based on what is happening in the real world."

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: "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."

Rail Minister Claire Perry said: "With more people travelling by train than ever before, the improving overall satisfaction with the railways is a welcome sign that our record investment is delivering the benefits that customers want. It is also testament to the hard work of thousands of rail staff that made it happen.

"However, we and the rail industry cannot be complacent, and there is clearly much more to be done. That is why we are continuing to invest to reduce crowding, cut journey times, and improve the passenger experience so we have a railway fit for the 21st century."

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The UK's worst train stations
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Rail union 'disbelief' at new passenger satisfaction report
This Edwardian station was built in the early 1900s and is operated by East Midlands Trains. 59 per cent of people surveyed said they were satisfied with the station - a low score which ranked it bottom for both cleanliness and facilities in the Passenger Focus National Passenger survey.

Birmingham New Street railway station is the largest and busiest serving Birmingham. Despite the regular flow of people, only 64% of passengers surveyed in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) are satisfied with the sation. 

London Bridge railway station is a central London railway station and a London Underground complex in the London Borough of Southwark. The station is the oldest railway station in central London and one of the oldest in the world. 67% of passengers surveyed were satisfied with this station, the fourth busiest station in London. 

Peterborough railway station is a major interchange serving both the north-south ECML, as well as East-West long-distance and local services. The station is managed by East Coast. Just 67% of passengers surveyed were satisfied with this station.

Crewe station was completed in 1837 and is one of the most historic railway stations in the world. Like London Bridge and Peterborough, only 67% of passengeres surveyed were happy with this station.

Gatwick Airport station provides a direct rail connection to London. The station platforms are located about 70 metres away from the airport's South Terminal. 69% of passengers surveyed were satisfied with this station.

Stockport railway station was identified as one of the ten worst category B interchange stations by a mystery shopper assessment in 2009. Despite improvements being made to the station since, it is still one of the ten worst stations with only 70% of passengers satisfied with the station.

Clapham Junction station is one of the busiest in Europe by number of trains using it with many routes from London's two busiest termini, London Waterloo and London Victoria. Only 71% of passengers surveyed were satisfied with this busy station.

Maidenhead railway station serves the town of Maidenhead, Berkshire, England. It is served by local services operated by First Great Western from London Paddington to Reading, and is also the junction for the Marlow Branch Line. The survey showed 71 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the overall quality of the station, giving it the ninth lowest satisfaction rating. 

Coventry station has the PlusBus scheme where train and bus tickets can be bought together at a saving. Despite this convenient feature, only 72% of passengers surveyed were satisfied with the station. 

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