Transport User Voice – January 2023 – More trains, on time and more info

20 December 2022

Passengers’ plea to Avanti and TransPennine Express

“I would rather drive to work as the trains are so full and unreliable.”

In recent months there’s been a great deal of disruption to rail services on Avanti and TransPennine Express. We spoke to more than 1000 passengers on how the operators could do better.

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

The research shows that this disruption is having a significant impact and 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 can travel find the experience okay, many have experienced overcrowding.

Transport Focus is calling for:

  • a focus on reliability for the new timetables that were introduced in December
  • more services, to reduce crowding
  • more efforts to ensure that clear, quality information reaches all passengers.

We’ve 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.”

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

Avanti and TransPennine Express must do better in ensuring that the trains run reliably and provide better information. The new timetable introduced is an opportunity to improve the passenger experience.

We’ll be working with both operators to make sure the timetable does what it is intended to do, and so that passengers’ frustration can be lessened in the meantime.


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