Transport User Voice – August 2020 – Are rail passengers satisfied?

28 July 2020

What can we learn from pre-lockdown research?

Big improvements in satisfaction scores would usually mean big news – but the world has changed.

Transport Focus has carried out the world’s biggest rail satisfaction survey for more than 20 years now. This month we published the latest wave, which showed improvements in overall satisfaction for Great Northern (+9 percentage points), Grand Central (+6), and ScotRail (+5).

Meanwhile, there were drops in satisfaction for Avanti West Coast (-7), TransPennine Express (-5), West Midlands Trains (-5) and South Western Railway (-4).

However, of course this year coronavirus had an impact. We had to stop fieldwork early and only reached about three-quarters of the usual numbers (about 19,850 people).

Surveys pre-coronavirus risk seeming out of date. But there is much in these results that still remain valid and relevant. We can still see, for instance, the importance of punctuality – it continues to have the biggest impact on overall satisfaction.

In the immediate aftermath of lockdown, train punctuality has soared – so this is an opportunity for the industry to really review performance.

Pre-virus we knew that how the railway managed delays had the biggest single impact on levels of dissatisfaction – with the provision of information being a core part of this. Managing delays will be even more important as we come out of lockdown. It won’t be possible for passengers to just cram onto the next service as before – the need for social distancing and to avoid overcrowding means even more emphasis on this issue. The demand for accurate and timely information during disruption is only going to increase.

On stations, we are pleased to see an increase in satisfaction with toilet facilities rising to 52 per cent (up 6 percentage points nationally). Again, as we come out of lockdown, the need for passengers to have confidence in the availability and cleanliness of toilets has probably never been higher.

So, lots of useful stuff for an industry that is going to have to work hard to win back its customers. Check out the main report on our site here, or explore in more detail on our data hub.


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