Rail passengers pay the price for delays

The latest Which? train satisfaction survey reveals that, yet again, commuters are bearing the brunt of poor service, as we find rail operators aren’t doing enough to let delayed passengers know their rights on compensation.

For our fourth annual satisfaction survey we scored train companies based on the responses of over 7,300 train travellers when asked about their journeys over the last 12 months. Customer scores are based on overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending that train company to a friend. We also asked people to rate how they felt about factors like reliability, punctuality, value for money and cleanliness.

Three in 10 (29%) rail passengers told us they had suffered a delay when they last travelled, while three quarters of those held up for more than an hour said they were not told that this meant they qualified for a full refund.

Southern was the worst for delays with four in 10 (39%) saying they were held up the last time they travelled, in contrast, C2C was the least delayed with around one in ten (14%) passengers reporting a delay on their last journey.

We found the best operator for letting passengers know their rights on delays was London Overground, who told four in ten (38%) customers when they were entitled to a full refund on their last journey. They were followed by South West Trains (33%), SouthEastern (31%),First Great Western (27%) and lastly Southern, where only two in 10 (19%) of those entitled to claim compensation said they were informed about their rights on their last journey.

Thameslink & Great Northern/First Capital Connect scored the lowest on overall satisfaction with a score of 43%. All of the six lowest scoring train operators are also some of the biggest, covering commuter networks in the South East network around London. Five of these were also at the bottom of our table in last year’s survey. Yet again none of these have scored above 50% and all are rated poor value for money.

Thameslink & Great Northern/First Capital Connect, Southeastern, Southern, South West Trains and Northern also all scored low for the cleanliness of their toilets.

Grand Central topped our table with a score of 76%, the highest ever score in the history of our survey. However, disappointingly, we found only a third of companies we looked at have improved their place in the table from last year.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said:

“Long delays and consistently low levels of customer service are driving commuters to distraction.

“Passengers often have little or no choice as to the rail companies they travel with, so as ticket prices continue to rocket, more must be done to improve customers’ satisfaction and to inform people of their right to a refund as a result of delays.”

Notes to editors:

1. Full table of satisfaction results


2. Methodology: In our November 2014 survey of the general public we received 7,309 responses from commuter and leisure travellers about the journeys they had taken in the previous 12 months.

3. The table shows the proportion of passengers who experienced a delay on their last journey with each train company:

Position Train company % of passengers delayed
1 Southern


2 Thameslink & Great Northern / First Capital Connect


= South Eastern


= First Great Western


5 First TransPennine Express


= Greater Anglia


7 CrossCountry


= London Overground


= London Midland


10 Northern Rail


= Chiltern Railways


= South West Trains


13 Arriva Trains Wales


14 East Midlands Trains


15 East Coast


= Virgin Trains


17 ScotRail


18 Grand Central


19 First Hull Trains


= Merseyrail


21 C2C


 The table is based on 6850 responses from rail passengers who were asked whether they experienced a delay on their last journey. Base sizes differ from satisfaction survey as not all passengers were able to recall whether they had been delayed or not.





















4. The latest Which? Consumer Insight Tracker shows just a quarter of people (25%) say they trust the rail industry to act in their best interests – a similar figure to the number who say they trust the gas and electricity companies (24%). Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed a representative sample of 2,088 UK adults online between 16th and 18th January 2015.  Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

5. Which? consumer rights advice on how to claim compensation for a delayed train journey can be found here: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/can-i-get-compensation-for-train-delays-and-cancellations

6. Thameslink and Great Northern, operated by Govia Thameslink Railway, took over services from First Capital Connect in September 2014. We have combined responses for both companies to produce one customer score.

7. Compensation statistics are based on the rail operators we were able to gather responses for around information on compensation.

Press Release: , , ,