83% of Great Britain’s passengers satisfied but train companies need to improve on delays

The majority of passengers (83%) across Great Britain are satisfied with the overall service they receive on the railway, the National Passenger Survey has revealed today.

Commenting on the findings of Great Britain’s largest passenger survey, Passenger Focus welcomed improvements to London Midland (87%), First TransPennine Express (89%) and Virgin Trains (89%) overall satisfaction scores.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said: “The investment in faster and more frequent Virgin Trains services and London Midland’s new trains have resulted in much better scores from passengers. The message from passengers is clear – investment does pay off.”

While passengers said they were happy with rail services overall, work is needed to improve the areas passengers have identified as their top priorities. Scores for value for money slipped a point (45% passengers satisfied) and only 36% of passengers said they were satisfied with how well their train company handled delays.  

The NPS results show that when the train company is able to run its services on time, passengers are more likely to report that they’re satisfied with services overall. What continues to annoy passengers is the way delays are managed by the industry and a poor performance in this area often results in passengers reporting greater dissatisfaction with the train company.

Mr Smith commented that the Autumn 2009 survey happened before the winter disruption which saw many passengers left out in the cold. He said: “The recent snow and industrial action, as well as the NPS results, tell us the industry has a long way to go when it comes to managing disruption. First Capital Connect, for example, has a lot to do to restore their passengers’ faith – boosting the mean compensation package on offer for recent poor performance would be a good start.”

Passenger Focus welcomed improved passenger satisfaction scores with punctuality, up two points to 83% and long distance operators’ improved punctuality results – specifically on the former National Express East Coast (90%), Virgin Trains (90%), First TransPennine Express (88%), CrossCountry (85%) and East Midlands Trains (85%). But the watchdog now believes the industry should improve how it classifies services as being ‘on-time’.  

Mr Smith said: “Trains arriving on time is a top priority for passengers – the industry should work on trains arriving at each station according to the timetable, not just at the final destination. And, we would like the industry to look at how it records punctuality. On time should mean just that, not within the five or 10 minutes leeway currently accepted.”

Almost all passengers travelling on open access operators Wrexham Shropshire (98% of passengers satisfied) and Grand Central (95%) said they received a good service from their train company. Additionally, Heathrow Express (93%), MerseyRail (91%), Chiltern Railways (91%), ScotRail (90%), Heathrow Connect (90%) and c2c (90%), all continue to be strong performers. 


Notes to editors

1. Full results of the Autumn 2009 wave of the National Passenger Survey are available to download from Autumn 2009 NPS

  • Over 26,000 passengers are surveyed for each wave of the National Passenger Survey. Two waves (spring and autumn) are conducted each year
  • The National Passenger Survey provides a network-wide picture of passengers’ satisfaction with rail travel. Passenger opinions of train services are collected twice a year from a representative sample of passenger journeys
  • Passengers’ overall satisfaction and satisfaction with 30 specific aspects of service can therefore be compared over time
  • Fieldwork took place between September and November 2009
  • Ratings for each individual Train Operating Company are available, as well as ratings for each sector, i.e. London and the South East, long distance and regional operators.

2. Media enquiries regarding this release should be addressed to:

Krista Hamblin
Press officer
0300 123 0821/07918 626 045