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Govia services blasted by customers in latest survey

GTR’s services made up two of the bottom three in this year’s annual Which? passenger survey, with the other spot taken by South Eastern, also run by Govia.

Southern Rail finished bottom of the ranking for the third year running, piling more pressure of the already troubled service after a year punctuated by overcrowded services and industrial action.

Coming second from bottom was South Eastern, run by Govia but not part of the GTR franchise, receiving a customer score of 39%, equalling Thameslink and Great Northern but significantly ahead of Southern’s woeful 28%.

At the other end of the rankings, Grand Central leads with a score of 64% just ahead of Translink NI on 62%, followed by Virgin Trains West Coast and Chiltern Railways, who both scored 61%.

The scores are decided based on passengers’ response to two questions – specifically, how satisfied they are with services, and whether they would recommend the service to a friend.

The results come at a tough time for GTR, with the government already suggesting that it could break up the franchise when its contract expires in 2021 in an attempt to deal with repeated strike action which have plagued services across a number of TOCs.

It was also criticised by the National Audit Office (NAO) who found it was providing “the worst performance on the network” and had failed to delivery value for money to the government.

GTR: Survey does not account for 'unique and complex challenges' 

Responding to the Which? results, a spokesperson for GTR said: “Much of the disruption on Southern Railway has been caused by union opposition to our modernisation programme which is being carried out to transform services on the most congested routes in the country.

“The Which? analysis fails to take into account the unique and complex challenges that face GTR compared to other train operators. Southern also operates a commuter service of over 2,200 services a day and is compared with other firms which operate far fewer trains and, in many cases, operate on long distance leisure routes.

“Services are improving and we will introduce an enhanced train timetable in May to give passengers better reliability on Southern and a greatly expanded Thameslink network, creating 35,000-40,000 more seats into London.”

They went on to point out that GTR has replaced the Thameslink fleet and started to bring in new trains on its Cambridge and Peterborough route, which will also have new services connecting to Gatwick.

“As operators of the UK’s largest rail franchise, accounting for more one fifth of all UK rail journeys, we are confident that our trailblazing achievements will be felt by rail travellers for generations to come.”

Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets at Which?, commented: “Fares are going up but frustrated and long suffering passengers affected by seemingly never ending delays, cancellations and dirty trains don’t feel that their services are getting any better.

“The problems don’t stop there. People are also finding it difficult to claim compensation when things go wrong. Automatic compensation must be introduced across the industry so that people can get the money they are owed.”

Generally, the report also revealed some of the issues affecting passengers across the entire system, with 25% who attempted to claim compensation saying the process was difficult, an issue repeatedly mentioned by watchdog Transport Focus.


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