Best and worst UK train companies: Best train companies overall

grand central logo 2015

Long-distance train company Grand Central tops our 2016 survey 

Grand Central and Hull Trains voted top

Two small companies running just a handful of long-distance services triumphed in the Which? train satisfaction survey for 2016.

Grand Central runs just four trains a day each way between London and Bradford, and five between London and Sunderland. But it tops our table with a customer score of 79%.

Hull Trains, which operates seven daily services between London and Hull, is second with 73%.

The full results of our customer satisfaction survey are shown in the table below. 

Find out more: How to get cheap train tickets - our top 10 tips 

UK train companies rated
Train companyAvailability of seatingAvailability and cleanliness of toiletsOverall condition of trainReliabilityPunctualityValue for moneyCustomer score
Grand Central (64)79%
Hull Trains (74)73%
Merseyrail (201)70%
Virgin Trains West Coast (167)69%
C2C (177)62%
East Coast/Virgin Trains East Coasta (155)61%
Chiltern Railways (117)60%
Scotrail (293)59%
East Midlands Trains (134)58%
London Overground (253)56%
Cross Country Trains (192)55%
First TransPennine Express (143)55%
London Midlandb (280)55%
TfL Rail (77)52%
South West Trains (949)51%
First Great Western/Great Western Railwayc (434)50%
Northern Rail (411)50%
Arriva Trains Wales (111)49%
Southernb (762)48%
Abellio Greater Anglia (541)47%
Southeastern (733)46%
Thameslink and Great Northernb (365)46%

Full features table

Sample sizes in brackets. Overall sample 6,986. A company must have a minimum of 30 respondents to be included in our table. Customer score is based on overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending that train company to a friend. 

Footnotes: a. Virgin Trains took over the East Coast network in March 2015. b. Govia Thameslink Railway owns Thameslink and Great Northern, London Midland, Southern as well as Gatwick Express c First Great Western changed its name to Great Western Railway in September 2015.

Commuter frustrations revealed in video diary

We asked customers of some of the poorest-scoring companies to keep a video diary to show the impact of overcrowding and delays. 

In the video below, Vicky C, who lives in Bromley and pays £162 a month to commute into London on Southeastern trains, shows evidence of her daily frustration.

 

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Video transcript

So, our train has been delayed by nearly 20 minutes because of signalling failures at London Bridge again But yeah. Very annoying. The annoying thing about the delays is I actually checked on the TFL website before I arrived at the station, and there was no, no mentions of delays So the train was half an hour delayed, and now they're terminating at Elmers End, which is three stops before my final destination so I'll be getting a bus home tonight.

Today my train got in on time to Charing Cross, and when we left Charing Cross We were only a couple minutes late, however, mine was the first train to get started normally again because all the trains before that were up the creek. My mum was getting the South Eastern Service from Lewisham to Hayes and she ended up having to go to Grove Park or Bromley and then get a bus home because they weren't going to Hayes.

[BLANK_AUDIO] [SOUND] Train just arrived on platform five is the 1832 Tom Ridge Wells. [BLANK_AUDIO] [SOUND]

Our research

In our November 2015 survey, we asked train travellers about the journeys they had taken in the previous 12 months and received 6,986 responses. Each train company is rated in categories we know mean a lot to our customers, and given an overall customer score. 

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