All aboard? Which? reveals how train companies are still letting down commuters

Which?’s second annual train satisfaction survey, of 7,500 regular train users, reveals that First Capital Connect’s passengers believe it is on the wrong track with a customer score of just 40%. By contrast Virgin Trains was given a big thumbs up by its passengers, coming top of the table for the second year running with an overall customer score of 67%.

The survey of all the major train operating companies compiled customer scores based on passengers’ overall satisfaction with a company and whether they would be likely to recommend it. Which?’s research also showed that over half of the train companies had a customer satisfaction score of 50% or lower, and overall only 22% of train users felt the service they received was improving despite rising ticket prices. The research also reveals that one in 10 journeys result in passengers having a cause for complaint, but 82% don’t bother to complain.

Season tickets have increased on average by an above inflation 4.2%.  Price increases are one of the reasons why 40% of train users told us they are likely to reduce the number of journeys they make. However, a third of commuters also said they have no alternative way of getting to work.

In a separate investigation Which? found train ticket machines also offered travellers poor service. In a snapshot investigation, looking at 11 London mainline station ticket machines, we found certain tickets not available and unclear information that could either prevent people getting the cheapest ticket or risk being fined for travelling with a invalid ticket.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“With 1.5 billion train journeys made every year and eight of the 17 UK rail franchises up for grabs in the next two years, customer service should be top of the agenda for every train operating company. It is good to see some are performing well on service, but customers clearly feel others need to do better.

“Passengers tell us they are fed up with trains that are delayed, overcrowded and dirty. This is especially disappointing as many commuters can’t shop around or change the company they travel with. Train companies need to play fair with their customers, especially when they are being asked to pay more for their journeys.”

Which? is urging consumers to complain if they are unhappy with the service they get from their train company. If your train is delayed by 30 minutes or more, use our train delay tool to see what compensation you are entitled to.

Notes to Editors

1. Full results from the second Which? annual trains survey:

Train company Customer score
Virgin Trains 67%
London Overground 65%
C2C 64%
Merseyrail 64%
Chiltern Railways 62%
East Coast 58%
First Transpennine Express 54%
ScotRail 53%
Cross Country 51%
East Midlands Trains 50%
Arriva Trains Wales 48%
Southern 48%
South West Trains 47%
London Midland 45%
Northern 44%
First Great Western 43%
South Eastern 43%
Greater Anglia 42%
First Capital Connect 40%


2. Which?’s online survey was conducted in November 2012 and asked 7,519 UK adults about their train journeys in the last 12 months. Survey respondents had, on average, travelled 37 times by rail in the previous year.

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