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Passengers report overcrowded, late and dirty trains in survey

Over half of passengers (53%) could not get a seat on a train due to overcrowding at least once during the last six months, a Which? survey has today stated.

The survey asked passengers about their experiences with train delays and overcrowding over the past six months.

It found that overcrowding was a major problem for many people, as 53% reported not being able to find a seat at least once and 15% said it was a regular problem.

And many also stated that delays were common, as 51% said at least one train had been more than 15 minutes late in the last six month while 12% said this happened regularly.

TOCs were also criticised for not keeping carriages in a suitably tidy state, as half of respondents said at least one train they had travelled on had not been cleaned while just under one in five (18%) claimed they had been unable to access any toilet facilities on a long train journey at least once.

Other problems raised by the survey were that passengers did not trust companies to put things right, as only 43% thought their claim for compensation was handled fairly.

And many passengers stated they were unsure of how to go about making a claim, as 67% said they would go to the rail ombudsman – despite this being a position that does not currently exist.

Specific comments from passengers also showed that operators had not been responding to passenger complaints, as a man called Phillip told Which?: “My wife and I have written to complain on a number of occasions. In some instances, we have had a response but on other occasions, nothing.”

The results of the survey have led the consumer watchdog to call on the next government to make passenger satisfaction a top priority.

Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of Public Markets, said: “The rail sector is failing passengers on too frequent a basis.

“People believe that improving rail services should be one of the top priorities for the next government, which isn’t surprising given the numerous stories we have heard about constant delays and overcrowding that many people face on a daily basis.”

Hyman also stated that the next government will need to quickly step up and ensure that passengers are getting a much better standard of service.

“Trust can only begin to be restored by introducing an independent, statutory ombudsman, and a stronger regulator that stands up for passengers,” he concluded.

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Tothehills   12/05/2017 at 12:54

You have to say it is an odd state of affairs when passengers complain about how untidy carriages are. Who discarded the litter in the first place = The passengers. How often do you see passengers get up and leave their rubbish behind mid way through a train's journey.

Jimbo   12/05/2017 at 13:45

The question these surveys never ask is "Would you be willing to pay more for your ticket if it guaranteed a seat?". There is no obligation on the TOC to guarantee a seat, and if there was, ticket prices would have to increase to provide more stock. It is also worth pointing out that I started commuting in BR days, and trains were just as busy and far dirtier then, so nationalisation is not the answer. The profits the TOC's take out of the railways are a tiny percentage of the costs, and would quickly be absorbed in additional staff costs caused by more powerful unions. The bit I do agree with is the claims process, which is rubbish at the moment. The new SouthWesttrains franchise is promising automatic delay repay, which is a start, but more work is needed.

Andrew G   15/05/2017 at 01:15

No matter how I use Greater Anglia. During the evening rush hour (between half 4-half 7) 5 days a week is so manic. It does get so full up and I tried to board the train at Shenfield at least 6 times to get home which I use Rayleigh station as it's the nearest station to me but it's becoming more overcrowded and it's like a few hours of trying to board the train but I fail completely as the whistle is blown and the train doors close and the train leaves and I tried but I failed completely and then I wait for another train to come in and it's the same repeat. Until the rush hour does die down and yes the seats or carriages becomes more emptier after rush hour. I have always suffered with overcrowding on trains during rush hour but that's how commuters use the trains to get work and head back home after work (hense why I'm moaning about). Once the Elizabeth Line is fully opened in 2019. Then it would help with massive overcrowding. Which I can't wait to board the new Elizabeth Line trains. Plus Greater Anglia are also ordering new train in the next few years.

Boris   15/05/2017 at 12:14

Andrew, do you even have a job to get to? Why don't you just travel before or after the evening peak in order to get yourself a seat.

Gabriel Oaks   16/05/2017 at 12:05

Although I have worked in the rail industry for nearly forty years these days I avoid travelling by train as far as possible choosing to drive instead. Trains are now overcrowded with insufficient seating; that seating which is provided is hard, uncomfortable and often insufficient legroom. Within reason passengers have an expectation of a seat; hiding behind the old chestnut of there being no obligation to provide a seat is an archaic and outdate excuse for failing to invest further in the railway.

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