Run the trains on time, more of them, and keep us better informed – passengers’ plea to Avanti and TransPennine Express

30 November 2022

“It was awful and if it was like that again, I would consider alternative travel options in future.”

Independent watchdog Transport Focus spoke to more than 1000 Avanti and TransPennine Express passengers, following months of disruption to rail services.

Around one in five said they had experienced delays or cancellations on their last journey. Less than half were satisfied with delay information.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said:

“Passengers have told us that this disruption is having a significant impact, potentially putting some off using the train for good. Some have cancelled plans or travelled another way, while others feel anxious about it all going wrong. While most of those who are able to travel find the experience OK, many have experienced crowding.

“Avanti and TransPennine Express must do better in ensuring that the trains run reliably. They must also provide better information. December sees a new timetable – this is an opportunity to improve the passenger experience.”

The watchdog is calling for:

  • a focus on reliability for the new timetable due to come in on 11 December
  • more services, to reduce crowding
  • more efforts to ensure that clear, quality information reaches all passengers.

Transport Focus has been monitoring the impact of cancellations and reduced timetables on passengers, pushing for improvements in information and refund arrangements.

Key findings of the most recent survey were:

  • 28 per cent of Avanti passengers said they experienced a change/cancellation or delay to their journey and 22 per cent on TransPennine Express
  • just over four in 10 (44 per cent) passengers rated Avanti’s communication about delays as good and 46 per cent for TransPennine Express
  • crowding was an issue on many journeys – a quarter of Avanti passengers and just over two in 10 (22 per cent) of TPE said the level of crowding was poor. However 55 per cent of Avanti passengers and 57 per cent of TPE said that the level of crowding was good
  • overall 78 per cent of Avanti passengers were satisfied with their journey and 77 per cent of TransPennine Express.

What passengers say

One Avanti passenger said: “Very limited service, not able to book advance tickets for a weekend journey so had to travel earlier than intended and take annual leave from job. Very unimpressed by Avanti service over past weeks.”

A TransPennine Express passenger commented: “It was awful and if it was like that again, I would consider alternative travel options in future.” 

Another Avanti passenger spoke of being out of pocket: “Lights went off, train was mobbed, missed connecting train and had to book a taxi for £50. Missed my friend’s training event and didn’t get into my accommodation until 1am, which as a young woman in an unfamiliar place was terrifying.”

Passengers told us of taking to the car instead: “I would rather drive to work as the trains are so full and unreliable.”

Download the reports here.


Contact Transport Focus press office on 0300 123 2170 (0300 123 2181 out of hours).

Transport Focus surveyed 594 Avanti passengers and 471 TPE passengers between 11 and 18 November, asking about travel experiences from the last 28 days.

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