Better reliability and new trains improving overall satisfaction with the railway

27 June 2019

Overall passenger satisfaction with the railway rose nationally to 83 per cent in spring 2019 – up significantly compared to spring 2018 (81 per cent) and autumn 2018 (79 per cent), in latest results from the National Rail Passenger Survey.

National satisfaction with punctuality/reliability rose to 77 per cent this spring, also up significantly compared to spring 2018 (72 per cent).

Launching the latest results from the twice-yearly survey, Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus said:

“At long last, passenger satisfaction has begun to improve, buoyed in particular by a keener focus on improved reliability and the arrival of new trains on some routes.

“More improvement is essential, but it must be hoped the positive changes captured by the latest National Rail Passenger Survey are the start of a trend that signals the rebuilding of passenger trust in the railway.”

Three operators – all in London and the South East sector – secured a significant improvement in overall passenger satisfaction: Southern (+12 per cent), Great Western Railway (+6 per cent) and Southeastern (+5 per cent), following a keener focus on improved reliability and better passenger information and/or the arrival of new trains.

The improved satisfaction levels seen for these three operators were enough to deliver a significant overall improvement across the national network as a whole, even though no other train operating companies* saw a statistically significant improvement in their overall satisfaction score compared with spring 2018.

For London and the South East operators journeys during the spring survey were also rated as very or fairly satisfactory overall by 83 per cent of passenger – a figure significantly up compared to 79 per cent in spring 2018 (when services during the survey period were strongly impacted by severe late winter weather). Satisfaction with punctuality/reliability for this group of operators also rose by 7 per cent overall compared to a year ago.

Nationally, less than half of passengers (47 per cent) are satisfied their ticket offers value for money, though even at that level this score is significantly up compared to spring 2018 when the same measure stood at 45 per cent. Overall satisfaction at a national level with the level of crowding on the train also rose significantly this spring to 72 per cent (up from 70 per cent a year ago).

For regional operators overall satisfaction (83 per cent) did not change significantly compared to spring 2018 (84 per cent). Underneath this headline figure, were significant declines in satisfaction for factors including the upkeep/repair of the station buildings/platforms (-5 per cent).

For the long-distance operators the proportion of journeys rated as very or fairly satisfactory overall was not significantly different to scores a year ago. Satisfaction improved significantly with station shelter facilities (+3 per cent) but fell for car parking facilities (-6 per cent) and for the level of crowding on the train (-2 per cent).

Across many operators the most significant improvements in satisfaction were for the provision of better internet connection and more power sockets; consequently, overall national satisfaction with the reliability of the internet connection rose 7 per cent and with the availability of power sockets rose 5 per cent.

Notes to editors

The National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS), is one of the largest published passenger satisfaction surveys of rail passengers in the world.

In the latest survey – between 4 February and 14 April 2019 – Transport Focus surveyed 30,119 passengers.

The highest ratings for overall satisfaction were achieved by Heathrow Express (95 per cent), Virgin Trains (91 per cent), Merseyrail (90 per cent), Hull Trains (90 per cent), and Chiltern Railways (90 per cent).

The lowest ratings for overall satisfaction were given to Great Northern (77 per cent), South Western Railway (78 per cent), Northern (78 per cent), Greater Anglia (80 per cent) and Southeastern (80 per cent).

Summary – overall satisfaction Spring 2019 National Rail Passenger Survey

Journey type Spring 2018 (% satisfied) Spring 2019 (% satisfied)
National (GB)  81  83
National – commuters  72  76
London and South East  79  83
Long distance  87  87
Regional  84  83

*Grand Central, Hull Trains and Heathrow Express are ‘open access’ operators. Consequently, their scores do not contribute to the national satisfaction figure. It should also be noted that results for Grand Central were probably affected by engineering works on the East Coast mainline during the Spring 2019 survey period.

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