Southern records its lowest ever score in annual passenger survey

As Southern suffers its worst ever customer satisfaction score in Which?’s annual rail survey, the consumer champion launches a campaign taking the industry to task on unacceptable services that don’t deliver even the basics for long suffering passengers.

The survey of over 2,000 commuter experiences found:

  • Southern achieved a dismal score of just 21%. One year ago it had an overall customer score of 44%.
  • Southern received just one-star ratings for punctuality, reliability, seat availability, frequency and value for money, with almost half (46%) of those surveyed reporting that their last journey was delayed. At two stars, the highest mark it received was for the availability and cleanliness of its toilets and general condition of the carriages.
  • Southeastern was second from bottom with a rating of just 31%. They scored one-star for seat availability.
  • Thameslink and Great Northern came third from the bottom with 32%, scoring one-star for frequency and the condition of their carriages.
  • At the top of the table, five-star ratings for reliability and frequency helped put Merseyrail into first place with a customer score of 72%.
  • Virgin Trains West Coast came second with a five-star rating for reliability.
  • East Midland Trains is placed third with four-star scores for punctuality, reliability and frequency.

With passengers enduring a winter of misery on the railways, Which? is today launching a campaign calling for rail services to finally deliver for passengers. Which? wants:

  • Train companies to respect passenger rights and comply with the law.
  • The regulator to be given real teeth to hold the rail industry to account .
  • The Government to swiftly bring forward reforms that put passengers first.

If you have experienced delays, overcrowding, poor train conditions, short formation trains or general poor service, share your nightmare experiences with Which? by visiting:

Vickie Sheriff, Which? Director of Campaigns and Communications, said:

“After months of disruption, it’s no surprise to see Southern at the bottom of our customer satisfaction survey.

“Though Southern have performed particularly badly this year, the whole sector is continually failing passengers. Overcrowding, delays, short trains, carriages in poor condition – many services aren’t providing even the basics. Enough is enough – we need rail services that finally deliver for their passengers.”

Notes to eds

1. Customer satisfaction – Commuter Rail Services

Rail survey


TABLE: In Oct/Nov 2016, members of the public completed an online survey about their experiences of travelling with UK train operators. Our results are based on 2,218 commuter experiences. The sample sizes are in brackets. The more stars the better. n/a indicates that we did not recieve enough replies(minimum 30) to provide a rating, or that the service is not available. Reported punctuality The train arriving and departing on time. Reliability How reliable the train service is. Standing space The availability of standing space, including aisles and doorways. Frequency How often trains run. Carriages Their general condition. Toilets Their availability and cleanliness

2. Members of the public completed an online survey about their experiences of travelling with the UK train operators. Train operators measured may vary year-on-year.  Southern trains customer scores between 2014 and 2016 are based on:

  • August 2014 annual passenger survey. 2,969 commuters – Southern Rail customer score 46%
  • October/ November 2015 annual passenger survey. 2,590 commuters – Southern Rail customer score 44%
  • October/ November 2016 annual passenger survey. 2,218 commuters – Southern Rail customer score 21%

3. Consumer Insight Tracker –

4. In December 2015 Which? used its legal powers to lodge a super-complaint with the ORR calling for an urgent investigation into the behaviours and practices of train operating companies. In 2015 our research found that 47 million passenger journeys were cancelled or delayed by more than 30 minutes. We found that 35% of passengers who may have been entitled to a refund said they actually claimed. In its response the regulator confirmed our findings and has also reiterated just how badly some train companies are letting passengers down with compensation.

5. In December 2016 Which? co-hosted a forum with Rail Minister Paul Maynard to develop a plan to improve ticketing information for passengers and make it easier for people to choose the best value fare for their journey.




Press Release: