UK rail networks require “essential improvements” to customer service

17th Feb 2015

Which? has published its latest customer satisfaction survey covering the UK rail network providers, and revealed a perfect storm of dissatisfaction among the vast majority of passengers, thanks to a combination of increasing delays, ticket price hikes and poor customer service.

In its annual satisfaction survey, the consumer watchdog 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 were based on overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending that train company to a friend, as well as how people rated factors like reliability, punctuality, value for money and cleanliness.   

The responses were frequently low: three in 10 (29%) rail passengers said 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 this meant they qualified for a full refund.

Southern was the worst provider 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.

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 stated to be some of the biggest, covering commuter networks in the South East network around London. None of these scored above 50% and all were rated poor value for money.

“Long delays and consistently low levels of customer service are driving commuters to distraction,” said Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd.

“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.”

The ten worst offenders for delays were as follows:

·         Southern 39%
·         Thameslink & Great Northern / First Capital Connect 33%
·         Southeastern 33%
·         First Great Western 33%
·         First TransPennine Express 30%
·         Greater Anglia 30%
·         CrossCountry 29%          
·         London Overground 29%
·         London Midland 29%
·         Northern Rail 28%

In terms of customer satisfaction levels, however, the bottom four providers ranked as follows:

·         TGN/FCC: 43%
·         Southeastern: 44%
·         Southern: 46%
·         Abellio Greater Anglia: 46%

Current Rail Minister, Claire Perry told the BBC: "As part of our long-term economic plan, we are investing record amounts in the rail network in order to give passengers better journeys.

"It is vital that, as the industry delivers these essential improvements for the future, it does everything it can to minimise disruption in the present.

"We expect the industry to provide the best possible customer experience every day. When things go wrong unexpectedly, it must ensure passengers are kept informed about the compensation they are entitled to."

Shadow rail minister Lilian Greenwood said passenger satisfaction on UK railways was "still shockingly poor”.

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