Passengers unhappy with Britain’s train service, survey

More than half of Britain’s rail companies have been rated poor in customer satisfaction, according to an annual survey carried out by Which? magazine.

According to the annual survey to identify Britain’s best and worst trains, 11 of 19 companies operating the country’ trains received overall satisfaction scores lower than 50 per cent. In comparison, last year only nine firms scored lower than 50 per cent overall.

The worst reported were Greater Anglia and Southeastern, scoring just 40 per cent overall, while First Capital Connect, which connects London to Brighton and Cambridge, scored 41 per cent.

Overall one in ten of the 7,400 passengers questioned said they had reason to complain about their last rail journey, with complaints ranging from frequent delays, overcrowded carriages and malfunctioning lavatories. One in five of all passengers, including a quarter of all commuters, have experienced a delay; one in five commuters has had to stand through their last journey, while one in ten complained over defective lavatories – rising to 20 per cent for London Midland trains, 19 per cent for Southeastern and 17 per cent on First Capital Connect.

Merseyrail was rated the best operator, with a 70 per cent rating – the highest total seen during the three years, the survey found. Chiltern Railway, C2C and Virgin Trains were the only other companies to score more than 60 per cent overall.

C2C, which operates from London to Southend, was the highest scoring commuter service, scoring 66 per cent among business passengers, including top marks for punctuality.

Grand Central was rated the best long distance service, scoring 73 per cent among leisure passengers – who approved its spacious carriages and superior service. First Great Western was the lowest scorer in this category with 49 per cent, including poor marks for punctuality.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: ‘It’s disappointing to see some train companies consistently falling down on the basics of consumer service, with dirty and overcrowded carriages and toilets that don’t work.

‘Seven rail franchises end in the next two years and we want to see passenger’s experiences put right at the heart of the tender process so companies respond to consumer expectations and can be held to account if they don’t.’

On aspects that could improve their journeys, one in five passengers called for better punctuality, rising to three in ten among commuters. More than half of all travellers said they would be willing to pay more for an improvement in standards. One in five wanted free Wi-Fi.

A First Capital Connect spokesman said: ‘We are disappointed, especially after the far larger National Passenger Survey showed overall satisfaction scores of 79 per cent, but we listen to all feedback and are taking steps to deliver what passengers want.’