Train passenger satisfaction falls to 10-year low as Portsmouth passengers face strike action and train delays

PASSENGER satisfaction with rail services has fallen to a 10-year low amid delays, cancellations and rail fare increases, according to a survey.

Tuesday, 29th January 2019, 10:08 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:34 pm
Picture: Shutterstock

In Transport Focus’ latest National Rail Passenger Survey, overall satisfaction with rail services was 79 per cent, the lowest level since 2008 – with more than one in five passengers (21 per cent) not satisfied.

With worsening punctuality, the timetable chaos last summer, and lamentable strikes, passengers are less happy than at any time since 2008, the rail passenger watchdog said today.

About 25,000 passengers were questioned for the study.

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South Western Railway, the largest operator in the region, is one of the companies where satisfaction levels have plummeted following recent strike action and train delays.

The company had a satisfaction level of 83 per cent in 2016 but now has just 73 per cent.

In spring last year the satisfaction level was 80 per cent before the summer chaos irritated passengers.

Of the other regional operators, Southeastern saw a slight decline in satisfaction, dropping from 80 per cent in autumn 2017 to 78 per cent a year later.

Southern Rail bucked the trend, with its service satisfaction rising from 72 per cent in autumn 2017 to 74 per cent a year later. In 2016 it had a satisfaction rating of 65 per cent.  

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘Our latest survey confirms passenger satisfaction has fallen to a 10-year low.

‘Government and the industry must continue to focus on performance. In the longer term the Government’s Rail Review must bring about fundamental change.

‘Passenger irritation at poor performance erodes their most basic trust in the industry. Passenger frustration at continual fare increases saps confidence in the system to reform itself. Passenger anger during the summer timetable crisis was palpable.

‘A better value for money and more reliable railway must arrive soon for passengers.’

Key trends

Nationally the percentage of journeys rated as satisfactory for punctuality/reliability was 71 per cent, a figure significantly down year on year compared to 74 per cent in autumn 2017 and substantially lower than the 81 per cent recorded in autumn 2008.

The proportion of journeys rated by passengers as satisfactory in terms of value for money for the price of their ticket was 46 per cent nationally. That figure that is unchanged compared to autumn 2008. Among commuters, just 31 per cent of those surveyed rated their journey as value for money. 

Passenger satisfaction with how train operators dealt with delays scored 37 per cent in the latest survey but ranged between 29 per cent (Southern and Thameslink) and 77 per cent (Grand Central).

In London and the south east 78 per cent of passenger journeys were rated as very or fairly satisfactory (a significant fall from 80 per cent the previous year, and 82 per cent in autumn 2008).

On long distance operators 83 per cent of passenger journeys were rated as very or fairly satisfactory overall in autumn 2018, a significant fall from 86 per cent the year before (and still below the 84 per cent rating in 2008).

Punctuality/reliability saw a large fall in satisfaction (-7 per cent) in contrast to reliability of internet connection (+5 per cent).

Overall satisfaction also fell for regional operators to 79 per cent in the latest survey. The biggest declines in satisfaction were with usefulness of information about delays (-13 per cent and how well train operators dealt with delays (-11 per cent). It is notable that overall satisfaction for regional operators stood at 86 per cent in autumn 2008.