England’s best motorway services of 2018 revealed

24 July 2018

Norton Canes (Roadchef) services on the M6 toll has been rated England’s best motorway services in a user survey by the independent transport user watchdog.

For the second year running motorway service operators have performed well overall with 92 per cent of visitors happy with their visit, although value for money continues to be a key area for improvement.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“As the summer holiday getaway gets into full swing it’s good to see motorway services customers feel they get a good experience.

“Motorway services play an important role in providing the break motorists need. Drivers tell us they feel less stressed and more awake.

“Motorway service operators need to focus on ensuring customers see their experience as value for the money they’ve paid – that there is good range of food on offer and that buildings are maintained to a high standard.”

Across the country continued investment by operators is making a real difference to driver experience when they stop at services. In last year’s survey Heston East was the lowest ranked site with 62 per cent satisfaction. This year it has seen a significant increase to 88per cent satisfaction.

The biggest improvement of any site this year was at Stafford South – which has gone from 70 per cent satisfaction in 2017 when it was ranked second lowest to 99 per cent, the second highest performer in 2018.

In this second annual survey Transport Focus asked 9600 customers about their experience at 111 motorway services in England. Visitors had their say on facilities such as toilets, staffing, food and drink.

Overall, the survey found 92 per cent of customers were satisfied with their visit including:

  • the friendliness of staff was rated good by 94 per cent of visitors
  • 89 per cent of visitors were satisfied with the cleanliness of the toilets
  • at 88 per cent, satisfaction rates among people who drive for a living showed the biggest year-on-year increase, but remains lowest across all driver groups
  • 66 per cent of visitors thought the food or drink available to eat in the services was value for money
  • 24 per cent of visitors said they arrived at the services in a tired, stressed or frustrated frame of mind; this was reduced to just 5 per cent when leaving to go back on the road. This highlights the beneficial impact that a good motorway services experience can have on driving standards and road safety.

What drivers say:

One visitor told Transport Focus about the relaxing impact of their stop at a motorway services: “Nice place to relax and take a break from driving.”

A visitor making a leisure journey said: “It’s incredibly clean and tidy. A very good service all round.”

One business user said: “Value for money overall needs to be looked at. It’s way too expensive.” Another user who drives for a living summed this up saying: “Too expensive, would be nice to have a cheaper cuppa.”

On another visit a leisure user said: “Toilets are not very clean. It needs improvement.” And elsewhere one visitor said: “It’s a bit tatty and unloved looking.”

Notes to editors

Report: Transport Focus’s 2018 Motorway Services User Survey.

Kieran Watkins, senior communications officer, Tel: 0300 123 0836 / 07850 076 493 or email: kieran.watkins@transportfocus.org.uk

Highest ranked motorway services

Services Operator Per cent satisfied Ranking
out of 111
Report ref’
Norton Canes (M6 toll) Roadchef 100% 1 65
Stafford Southbound (M6) Roadchef 99% 2 84
Wetherby (A1 (M)) Moto 99% 3 106
Hilton Park Southbound (M6) Moto 99% 4 40
Corley Southbound (M6) Welcome Break 99% 5 20
Tebay Southbound (M6) Westmorland 99% 6 91
Pease Pottage (M23) Moto 99% 7 67
Woodall Southbound (M1) Welcome Break 99% 8 110
Killington Lake (M6) Roadchef 99% Joint 9th 44
Tebay Northbound (M6) Westmorland 99% Joint 9th 90

Lowest ranked motorway services

Services Operator Per cent satisfied Ranking
out of 111
Report ref’
Thurrock* (M25) Moto 68% 111 93
Toddington Southbound* (M1) Moto 72% 110 97
Southwaite Northbound (M6) Moto 80% 109 81
Newport Pagnell South (M1) Welcome Break 81% 108 62
Bridgwater (M5) Moto 81% 107 8

*services known to be undergoing refurbishment at the time of the survey.

Of the 111 service stations, 41 received a satisfaction score of 95 per cent or above.

Each motorway service area, including the 78 which are in pairs on either side of the road, were treated individually. This means that results can be different for north and south, or east and westbound services at the same location.

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