Latest Rail News

27.01.15

National Rail Passenger Survey shows satisfaction dips to 81%

Overall passenger satisfaction with the rail network has fallen to 81%, the latest National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) shows. 

This is down by 2% compared to autumn 2013 when 83% of passengers were satisfied overall with their journey, and down one percentage point in comparison to spring 2014. 

The NRPS also revealed the proportion of passengers satisfied with punctuality/reliability was down at 77% from 79% in autumn 2013. But passengers reported that their satisfaction with the railway’s value for money was at 46%, up from 45% in the previous autumn. 

However, the overall satisfaction by TOC varied between 74% and 94%. The lowest ratings for overall satisfaction were given to Southeastern (74%), Govia Thameslink Railway (77%), Southern (77%), South West Trains (80%) and Abellio Greater Anglia (80%). 

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Passenger Focus, said: “Rail passengers’ satisfaction is driven by getting trains on time. Many are being let down - fare increases, billions in government investment and promises of improvement don’t seem to be delivering change on the ground. 

“The high profile disruption after Christmas and at London Bridge will only have added to the gloom.” 

In response to the survey, Southeastern’s managing director David Statham said that the “disappointing scores” show just how important a reliable and punctual service is to passengers. 

He added that the company is “committed” to improving performance through a “robust new timetable”. But he did recognise that “we have a lot more work to do to ensure that our passengers are more satisfied with the service that we provide”.

Southeastern added that the scores reflect a difficult autumn period for its passengers, during which their journeys were affected by a broken crossing at Lewisham and a number of signalling problems. 

Tim Shoveller, chief executive for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said more needed to be done to deliver better journeys for passengers. 

He added: “We are replacing ageing infrastructure across 643 miles of track and are investing £250m in 250 new and refurbished carriages which will provide a 30% peak time capacity boost. 

“But our current level of performance is not where it needs to be and more work needs to be done to deliver the train service our customers deserve, said Shoveller. “There is no quick or easy fix to improve reliability, boost capacity and catch up on years of under-investment at the same time as running the UK’s busiest railway and carrying over half a million people a day.” 

The NRPS highest ratings for overall satisfaction were achieved by Heathrow Express (94%), Grand Central (94%) and Chiltern Railways (91%). East Coast, Merseyrail and Virgin Trains all had satisfaction of 90%.

Grand Central, the open-access operator, stated that passengers cited value for money, the comfortable seating and the extra legroom, available as standard on trains, amongst the reasons for the very high levels of satisfaction. 

Richard McClean, managing director at Grand Central Railway, who RTM interviewed recently, said: “Grand Central is at the heart of the communities that we serve, so we’re delighted that our customers continue to express high levels of satisfaction with our services. We pride ourselves on the reliability of our service and we are committed to listening to our customers in order to further improve our rail offering. 

“We have invested in our fleet of trains to improve reliability and work closely with Network Rail and industry partners to monitor and improve our performance where we can. We’re delighted that our passengers are noticing an improvement.” 

Recently, East Midlands Trains invested more than £10m to improve stations on its network, with improved waiting facilities and new shelters, refurbished toilets, additional ticket vending machines and better cycling facilities. 

Neil Micklethwaite, customer service and commercial director for East Midlands Trains, said: “We are continuing to make major investment to improve our stations and trains, but it’s also pleasing to see that the investment we are making in staff training is starting to make a real difference for our customers.” 

Michael Roberts, director general of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents all rail operators and Network Rail, said the results show how passenger satisfaction has been dipping after years of steady improvement and they “reinforce our determination to do better”. 

“The timetable is our promise to passengers, and too often we aren’t making good on this commitment,” he said. “To improve, we are working closer together as an industry to deliver better reliability so that more people can complete their journeys on time and improve information to passengers, particularly during disruption.” 

The RDG added that since spring 2009 overall satisfaction in the NRPS has consistently been 81% or above. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com 

Comments

Paul   27/01/2015 at 21:15

These surveys produce somewhat meaningless figures. If your journeys are made on Virgin's Pendelinos, you're going to have a better experience than I do, travelling on Northern Rail's Pacers. You'll naturally score Virgin more highly than you will Northern, but it doesn't mean Northern don't try as hard as Virgin. Nor do the figures appear to differentiate between internal and external causes of poor performance. If some oik nicks the signalling cable, you can't blame the TOC when their trains run late. Such factors may or may not be reflected in the published figures but unless it's made clear what is and what isn't a delay caused by the TOC itself, the figures become pretty well useless to anyone other than an advertising executive.

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