Which? survey reveals passenger satisfaction has hit the buffers

Which?’s third annual train satisfaction survey finds shockingly low levels of satisfaction with the majority of the companies we looked at failing to score over 50%.

Our new survey, of over 7,400 regular train passengers across all of the major train operating companies (TOCs), compiled scores based on passengers’ overall satisfaction with a company and whether they would be likely to recommend it.

A shocking 11 of the 19 companies we looked at had a customer score of 50% or lower, with Greater Anglia and Southeastern scoring just 40%.  Steaming ahead however, with a record score of 70%, was Merseyrail which has become the first train company to become a Which? Recommended Provider.

We also asked passengers about their overall experience and found:

·         Nearly one in five (16%) of all passengers experienced a delay on their last journey (this rose to 26% for commuters)

·         One in five (21%) of commuters said they were likely to have stood on their last journey

·         One in ten (11%) said toilets were not in good working order – this rose to 20% for London Midland Trains, 19% for Southeastern and 17% on First Capital Connect

One in ten passengers (11%) told us they had cause to complain about the last journey they had taken, but three-quarters (75%) didn’t officially complain.  Of those who did complain, more than half (55%) were dissatisfied with how it was handled.

Which? is encouraging passengers to formally complain to their company and also share their experience on our website to build a picture of the problems they face. We will then present each train company with a dossier of consumers’ complaints. Our site also has free information on passenger rights and what compensation is available for delayed or cancelled journeys.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“It’s disappointing to see some train companies consistently falling down on the basics of customer 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 passengers’ 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.”

We also asked what passengers felt would improve their journeys and what they would be prepared to pay more for.  Unsurprisingly, lower ticket prices were top of the wanted list (60%), with eight in 10 people saying fares were too high. People also wanted to see more carriages at peak times (35%), promotions on ticket prices (29%), one in five wanted wi-fi as standard (20%) and improved punctuality and reliability (18% – rising to 29% for commuters only.) Around one in ten (12%) of passengers told us they want cleaner trains – First Capital Connect and Greater Anglia scored just one star for cleanliness on commuter journeys. 

However, more than half (53%) said they don’t mind paying more if they saw an improvement in service in return. Half (49%) would pay more for a more reliable service, and a similar number (48%) would pay more to guarantee a seat. Four in ten (42%) would pay more if the money went towards new trains.

People can share their experiences of their train journeys with Which? at www.which.co.uk/trains

Notes to Editors

1.   Overall results from the third Which? annual trains survey: 

 2014 Magazine train satisfaction table best and worst

2.    Our November 2013 survey asked 7,415 UK adults about their train journeys in the last year. Customer scores are based on overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend the company – this is the same criteria used for Which?’s satisfaction surveys in other markets including energy firms, supermarkets and airlines, for example. Results are weighted to reflect each company’s market share and the type of passengers it carries. On average, respondents travelled by train 32 times in the last year.

3.    Which?’s annual satisfaction survey differs from Passenger Focus’s National Passenger Survey (NPS) is a questionnaire that is given to passengers as they step off a train asking if they were satisfied with the journey they had just undertaken.

4.    The latest Which? Consumer Insight Tracker shows just one in five people (22%) 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 (19%). Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed 2,061 UK adults online between 3rd and 5th January 2014. 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? has lots of advice for train passengers on its website:

http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/problem/can-i-get-compensation-for-train-delays-and-cancellations

http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/how-to-claim-refunds-for-train-delays-and-cancellations

http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/letter-to-claim-compensation-for-train-delays-and-cancellations

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