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Southern and Southeastern have lowest satisfaction rates as passengers ‘feel the strain’

Southern and Southeastern have the lowest ratings for passenger satisfaction in the latest survey from Transport Focus, raising concerns about pressures on passengers in London and the south east.

Southern and Southeastern both had 69% of passengers saying they found their service satisfactory or good. Southeastern’s rating also represented a significant decline, from 75% at the same time last year.

Arriva, c2c, Gatwick Express and Virgin East Coast also experienced significant declines, but Great Western and Virgin West Coast experienced significant increases. 

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: “Many passengers are feeling the strain. As passenger numbers rise and welcome investment is put in place some passengers are having a difficult time with delays and cancellations making journeys stressful. Simply getting on a train has become a struggle for some.

“Passengers’ main need is for a reliable railway. Our latest NRPS results, in London and the south east in particular, clearly show that for many this is not happening right now. Passengers want their reliable railway back.”

The railway infrastructure in the south of the country has suffered delays due to problems including a partial collapse of the sea wall at Dover, Storm Imogen, the upgrades at London Bridge, and landslides at Barnehurst.

Southern and Southeastern also experienced significant declines in the percentage of passengers satisfied with the frequency of the service.

Satisfaction on Southern declined from 57% to 53% and satisfaction on Southeastern declined even more sharply, from 73% to 56%. In addition, just 25% of Southern passengers and 29% of Southeastern passengers were satisfied with how well the company dealt with delays.

Results were even lower when passengers were asked about their satisfaction with the value for money of their ticket. Southeastern had the lowest rating at 30%, followed by Southern and Thameslink on 35% each.

Campaign for Better Transport has called for the government to intervene on Southern’s performance after the service suffered widespread delays, partly linked to ongoing conductor strikes.

Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway suffered the biggest performance and punctuality measure (PPM) decrease of all TOCs last month.

Alex Foulds, Southern’s passenger services director, said: “We recognise there is much to do and we continue to work hard with Network Rail to improve the performance of our network and our plans to improve customer service on our trains and stations, should ultimately deliver a better experience for all our passengers. We thank them for their patience.”

David Statham, managing director of Southeastern, said: “The latest National Rail Passenger Survey figures are a snapshot of a very difficult period for Southeastern passengers last winter.”

Southeastern said it was carrying out improvements, including collaborating with Network Rail to direct resources at the busy stretch of rail between Charing Cross and Lewisham, increasing its number of standby crews and boosting resources at the Kent Integrated Control Centre, as well as repainting all stations and providing seating, shelter and better toilet facilities.

The companies with the lowest percentage of passengers satisfied that there was enough room were TfL Rail (47%), Great Northern (52%) and c2c (53%).

London and the south east was also the sector with the lowest satisfaction ratings, with 77% of passengers satisfied compared to 85% in the regional sector and 88% long distance.

The results also show that overall passenger satisfaction has remained stable at 80% in both spring 2016 and spring 2015, and Grand Central had the highest satisfaction rating at 96%.

Richard McLean, managing director of Grand Central, said: “As a small operator, we can be flexible in our approach to customers and champion our people to ensure that they are able to provide that personal touch that makes us different. The results are therefore a testament to our fantastic team of people who are committed and passionate to deliver the best service possible.”

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