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‘Enough is enough’ as Southern drops to 21% passenger satisfaction

Strike-hit Southern has received its lowest ever score in an annual rail survey, finishing bottom for customer satisfaction after an annus horribilis for the operator. 

A survey of 2,215 commuters for consumer magazine Which? found that almost half (46%) of 256 recent Southern passengers reported that their last journey had been delayed.

Overall, the operator achieved an abysmal score of just 21%, dropping from 44% the previous year, receiving one-star ratings for punctuality, reliability, seat availability, frequency and value for money.

Vickie Sheriff, director of campaigns and communications for Which?, said that it was “no surprise” to see Southern at the bottom of the survey after months of disruption, while the franchise’s owner Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) admitted that its passengers “deserve better”.

“Though Southern have performed particularly badly this year, the whole sector is continually failing passengers,” Sheriff said.

“Overcrowding, delays, short trains, carriages in poor condition – many services aren’t providing even the basics,” she added. “Enough is enough – we need rail services that finally deliver for their passengers.”

Southeastern finished second-bottom in the survey with 31% after scoring one star for seat availability. Thameslink and Great Northern – also owned by GTR – was seen as the third-worst operator with 32%, scoring one star for train frequency and carriage condition.

The top achieving operator was Merseyrail whose five-star ratings for reliability and frequency gave it an overall score of 72%. Virgin Trains West Coast finished second with 69% and East Midlands Trains third with 67%.

A GTR spokesman said that the survey reflects the “wholly unjustified” strikes being taken by Aslef and RMT - due to resume next week -, knock-on delays from the redevelopment of London Bridge, and performance issues on Great Northern.

“Our passengers deserve better and, together with Network Rail and its £300m funding package to improve track signalling and overall performance, we’re working hard to improve the service,” the spokesman said.

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience for the Railway Delivery Group, which represents rail operators, stressed that it was “not true that the whole railway is failing passengers”, casting doubt on the small sample size of the survey.

However, she admitted that train operators know they must do better to improve services for passengers.

“Four in five passengers were satisfied with their train journey in the last independent nationwide survey, which asks more than 10 times as many passengers as Which?, but rail companies know they can improve,” Starr said.

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Lutz   17/01/2017 at 10:47

We need emergency legislation brought in to impose a no-strike clause, and trained people from abroad to take over the operation of services as existing staff are fired.

Ric Hard   17/01/2017 at 13:01

....and once you've sorted the appalling Management Lutz, how will you treat the staff?

Lutz   17/01/2017 at 17:13

There will not be any on-train staff shortly - it's coming.

Jimbo   17/01/2017 at 19:41

If Southern's rating hadn't dropped, everyone would be questionning the stats - there is no way you can maintain any kind of good customer rating whilst such disruptive strikes are going on. @Lutz - If you implemented a no-strike law, you would just get a lot more other unions striking in sympathy. I know sympathetic striking is illegal, but that hasn't stopped ASLEF.

Steve B Collins   17/01/2017 at 20:21

RE: " I know sympathetic striking is illegal, but that hasn't stopped ASLEF. " by Jimbo. Yes, I think most people invovled in the railway see it as sympathetic striking. The public would too if they understood the details. RMT have lost. Last summer they could prevent 60% of Southern's trains running if they went on strike; now it's down to 30%. DfT/GTR's plans were to bring that down to 14%. Only ASLEF can save RMT. The question is how much longer the drivers are willing to lose pay to save them after GTR has made improvements to the CCTV cameras and screens.

SWB   18/01/2017 at 00:02

Interesting. I didn't know that 21% of the population are either pickpockets, agoraphobics, or related to Southern staff.

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