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Rail satisfaction up but value for money disappoints

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Overall customer satisfaction with train journeys has increased but less than half of passengers are happy with the value of their ticket, a major survey reveals.

The latest National Rail passenger survey which sought the views of 28,000 users revealed that 82% of travellers were satisfied with their journeys in autumn 2019.

This is up three per cent on figures recorded in the previous year, according to independent watchdog Transport Focus.

Great Northern, ScotRail, Great Western Railway, Southern, Greater Anglia, TransPennine Express,  Thameslink and London Overground were all rated as having improved but passengers of West Midlands Trains and Virgin Trains reported a decline in satisfaction.

However, while overall passenger satisfaction edged up from its lowest level in a decade as of autumn 2018, the group said dire performance continues for many as passengers still can’t rely on their train service.

Northern, West Midlands Trains, South Western Railway and TransPennine Express passengers face unacceptable continued disruption and uncomfortable journeys.

Chief executive of Transport Focus, Anthony Smith, said: “Passengers tell us that their biggest priority is rail services they can rely on to actually get them to work or home on time. Until train companies and Network Rail can consistently deliver on their promises across the country satisfaction will continue to vary.

“In the meantime passengers hit by poor performance must make their voice heard and claim Delay Repay compensation.”

The research shows value for money results “remained disappointing”. Less than half of passengers are satisfied with the value of their ticket nationally, dropping to one in three for commuters.

Smith said: “Passengers have suffered years of above-inflation fare rises, exceeding average wage rises, and calculated using the discredited Retail Price Index measure. This does nothing to restore passenger trust in the industry.”

The best and worst performers

Overall satisfaction: 

Top – Heathrow Express (96 per cent), Grand Central (94 per cent), Hull Trains (92 per cent), Merseyrail (91 per cent), and Chiltern Railways (90 per cent).

Must do better – Northern (72 per cent), West Midlands Trains (73 per cent), South Western Railway (74 per cent), TransPennine Express (79 per cent), and Transport for Wales (79 per cent).


Top – Heathrow Express (95 per cent), Grand Central (90 per cent), and Merseyrail (91 per cent).

Bottom –  West Midlands Trains (60 per cent – a drop of 15 percentage points), South Western Railway (63 per cent), and Northern (65 per cent).

Value for money: 

Top – Grand Central (75 per cent), Merseyrail (67 per cent), Hull Trains (65 per cent) and Virgin Trains (64 per cent).

Bottom – South Western (34 per cent), Southeastern (39 per cent), Thameslink (42 per cent), Great Northern (42 per cent), and Greater Anglia (43 per cent).