Rail users 'unhappy' with service
Published 18/02/2013 | 00:56
More than half of train companies have a customer satisfaction score of 50% or lower, according to a Which? survey.
And overall, only 22% of train travellers feel their service is improving despite above-inflation fare rises last month.
Bottom in the 19-company satisfaction table was First Capital Connect, with only 40% of its passengers satisfied with its service.
The next least-satisfied passengers were those travelling on Greater Anglia trains, with the company only scoring 42%. Other companies where satisfaction levels were low included Southeastern (43% satisfied), First Great Western (43%), Northern (44%) and London Midland (45%).
Also below 50% were South West Trains (47%) Southern (48%) and Arriva Trains Wales (48%). The East Midlands Trains' figure was 50%, leaving 10 companies at 50% or worse and nine at better than 50%.
Top of the satisfaction table, compiled from responses from 7,500 regular train users, was West Coast main line operator Virgin Trains with a score of 67%. London Overground was second with 65%, while the London to Tilbury and Southend company c2c and Merseyrail both scored 64%.
On London Overground, where new trains have been introduced in recent months, 60% of users said they felt the service had improved in the past two years. But Which? said at the other end of the scale, a quarter of passengers reckoned they were now getting a worse service on London Midland where staff shortages have caused problems.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: "It is about time these basket-case private train companies like First Capital Connect were booted off Britain's railways for good and their franchises returned to public ownership. This current tolerance of these private rail spivs by the Government is reward for total and abject failure on an epic scale."
Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: "While taxpayers continue to fund the rail industry to the tune of £3.5 billion every year, rail companies must do better and the Government needs to hold them to account on behalf of passengers and taxpayers.
"This Government are also approving the closure of many station ticket offices to cut costs, but as this survey shows where people have to rely on machines, they often can't get the best ticket. David Cameron broke his promise to commuters to cap fare rises at 1% above inflation, with some passengers facing fare rises of up to 9.2%."