Just one in five people think Southern is suitable to run a train service, according to a new opinion poll.
It comes as commuters are hit with the first day of a three-day strike.
Southern told passengers to travel only if it was essential, as no trains will run on Aslef drivers’ strike days, while services on other days will be affected by a continuing ban on overtime.
Research by We Own It, which is an independent campaign for public ownership, suggests strong public support that Southern services, currently run by Govia Thamslink Railway, should be run directly by the government.
Since early 2016 the rail operator has been mired in a bitter dispute with rail unions including the RMT over plans to introduce driver-only operation on Southern trains, which would see drivers and not conductors open and close train doors.
Polling carried out by Survation found that more than half of people thought Southern is unsuitable to run the service, with one in five believing that GTR is suitable to run the service.
More than three quarters of those who responded want either Southern or the entire rail network to be brought back into public ownership.
Meanwhile 58 per cent thought that rail privatisation have failed, compared to 13 per cent who think it has been a success.
By comparison, a National Rail passenger survey in 2015 found 78 per cent of travellers were satisfied with their journey with the operator.
Cat Hobbs, director at We Own It, added: ‘We pay huge sums into our railway yet rail bosses tell us we can’t have conductors on trains to make them safer or give older and disabled passengers a helping hand.’