London and the south east passenger panel survey

09 December 2016

Following months of strikes, disruption and poor performance in London and the south east we wanted to understand passengers’ experiences of travelling on rail services in the region and what information is shared with them during disruption.

In November 2016 Transport Focus used its Transport User Panel to gather input about rail services on Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Southeastern Railway. Over 2,000 people responded giving insight that we have used to challenge poor performance and information.

The key aims of the survey were to:

  • provide a benchmark with which to monitor passenger satisfaction with performance
  • measure when and how passengers travelling on the routes find out about disruption and delay to their train services, and which sources of information they trust
  • find out whether passengers are claiming Delay Repay compensation, and how easy they find this process
  • explore the extent to which passengers would be happy to use smart technology to allow for the automation of the process of receiving compensation.

Key findings

Information during disruption

  • Passengers tend to use at-station sources of information to find out about delays and disruption. Third party apps and websites are most often used compared with train operating company alternatives.
  • As well as being the most often used, departure screens at the station and ad hoc/live staff announcements are the most trusted sources of information about delay and disruption.
  • On the last occasion that they were delayed, less than one in ten found out before they arrived at departure station.

Clearly passengers need to be provided with better information before they leave, prior to arriving at the station, to help them make better informed decisions during disruption.

Rail Minister, Paul Maynard MP has asked Transport Focus to work with Govia Thameslink Railway and Southeastern to improve this.

Action plans are being developed by train operators to be discussed at the next South East Quadrant meeting with the Rail Minister.


  • Overall more than three in five passengers who have been delayed for 30 minutes or more have submitted a claim for compensation.
  • Around a half of passengers submitting a claim for compensation for a delay said that they found the process easy, and more than three in five say that making a claim was worthwhile.

Both operators acknowledged that more needs to be done to make the process of claiming compensation easier. We will continue working with them on this.

Use of smart technology

Passengers using smartphones were asked how likely they would be to download a train operating company app which would monitor journeys and offer automatic alerts if it appeared that the passengers was eligible for delay compensation.

These passengers were then asked if they would be more, or less, likely to download such an app if it could offer the automatic payment of compensation by bank transfer or by PayPal.

  • More than three in five passengers say that they can usually use their smartphone/smart device to connect to the internet when on the platform, while only one in five say that they can get a good connection throughout the whole of their journey on board the train.
  • Around two-thirds of passengers using a smartphone agreed that they would be likely to download such an app, and also that they would be more likely to download it if it offered enhanced and automatic ways in which compensation could be paid.

Transport Focus has shared these findings with the Government and the rail industry. They are considering how to respond to the findings.

What next?

We will continue to work with the operators to address the findings. We will be using our passenger panel each month to monitor performance through the set benchmarks and seek additional input into areas that matter to passengers.

Click the link below to download the full research report.

Transport Focus - London and the south east passenger panel survey - full report - November 2016
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