Almost half of rail commuters ‘frequently stressed’ by journeys

Almost half (48%) of people who travel to work by train are frequently stressed by their journeys, a new survey suggests.

Issues caused by delays include missing out on time with family and friends (17%), being disciplined at work (9%) and additional childcare costs (6%), according to the poll of 3,994 rail commuters commissioned by consumer group Which?.

Some 4% of respondents said they have moved house as a result of train disruption.

One ex-Northern passenger, Jonathan Lee-Smith, was so fed up with his commute that he decided to relocate from Blackpool to Devon.

He said: “The problems with Northern meant I wasn’t able to get to and from work when I needed to. It was affecting my sleep and social life. It made me miserable. It got to the point where I wasn’t happy with anything so I decided to make a change.”

Which? managing director of public markets Alex Hayman said: “It is shocking that a modern transport system is allowed to have such a negative impact on the people who rely on it every day.

“Its failures are affecting people’s health and employment, and some are even forced to move home as a result of the disruption.”

Separate Which? research indicated that consumer distrust of the rail industry has grown over the past year from 27% to 32%.

Out of 13 industry sectors and organisations only second hand car dealers are trusted less.

Train punctuality slumped to a 13-year low in 2018 due to a series of major issues.

One in seven trains were delayed by at least five minutes in the 12 months to December 8, which is the worst performance since September 2005.

The chaotic launch of new timetables, strikes, signalling failures and extreme weather are among the factors which wreaked havoc with trains last year.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a review by former British Airways chief executive Keith Williams to consider all parts of the rail industry.

Mr Hayman said: “If the Government rail review is to have any hope of restoring faith in the system it must listen to passengers, who have too often been an afterthought.

“However, train companies should not wait for the results of the review to take action. The industry must start putting the interests of passengers first to address the chronic issues identified in our survey.”

Robert Nisbet, regional director at rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We want people to have punctual, stress-free journeys and rail companies are working together to improve, with December’s punctuality the best in five years.

“As part of our long-term plan we’re rebuilding key parts of the network to improve punctuality and putting thousands of new and refurbished carriages on track to make journeys more comfortable.

“We want to go even further, which is why we support more fundamental reform of the railway that sees the public and private sectors working together to unlock benefits for the economy and our customers.”

A DfT spokesman said: “Passengers deserve a safe, reliable and punctual service.

“That’s why we’ve introduced new measures on compensation, an independent rail ombudsman and more speedy, one-click compensation.

“We’re also investing a record £48 billion to modernise our network and deliver significant improvements in performance, punctuality and capacity.”

On Tuesday, passenger watchdog Transport Focus will publish the results of its latest rail passenger satisfaction survey of more than 25,000 travellers, including a ranking of train operators.

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