A raw deal for rail passengers in Wales?

12 September 2023

Rail headlines are dominated by questions around the future of ticket offices. But strikes and overtime bans have been going on for more than a year, creating uncertainty and difficulty for passengers. And engineering works – albeit vital – bring disruption.

In the middle of this passengers are still making journeys for work and pleasure, day in day out. What has it been like for those travelling by train over the past few months?

Transport Focus’s Rail User Survey asks passengers in Great Britain about experiences of travelling by rail and how satisfied they were with their most recent train journey. We can track satisfaction over time and compare train operators. The most recent report shows a mixed picture for passengers.

In Wales we’ve been keeping a close eye on rail performance and have previously spoken about our concerns. Our Rail User Survey reflects these ongoing issues, with overall satisfaction with journeys on Transport for Wales (TfW) trains in decline for the past year and now at 72 per cent. Satisfaction with punctuality/reliability and frequency of services has fallen further in recent months, leaving Transport for Wales rated bottom on all three measures. Fleet issues, along with delays to bringing in new trains, and valleys transformation work will all have played a part.

While we have seen recent signs of improvement in certain areas of service delivery, we continue to challenge TfW’s senior leaders and work with the Office of Rail and Road to press for action on these key aspects that we know matter most to passengers.

A more positive story for Avanti West Coast as overall satisfaction with the journey has improved in recent months, now at 87 per cent, the highest level seen for more than a year. Satisfaction with punctuality/reliability and frequency of services has recovered somewhat, although still lower than previous levels.

The May 2023 timetable change brought additional services and better connections for some passengers. However, there is still much work to be done and some passengers are still getting a raw deal. Confidence won’t be fully restored while industrial relations issues rumble on.

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