Passenger satisfaction levels have fallen in the last year for the majority of train companies, a watchdog has announced.
And just 40% of customers thought their rail journey was value for money – 5% down on the autumn 2007 figure, a survey by watchdog body Passenger Focus said.
Travellers gave 13 companies poorer satisfaction marks in spring 2008 than in spring 2007.
Seven companies performed better than in spring 2007, while one (Merseyrail) had no change in customer satisfaction levels.
Overall, 80% of passengers surveyed at more than 600 stations for the spring 2008 poll were satisfied with their train journey – 2% up on the spring 2007 figure.
Among those companies suffering a dip in satisfaction levels were East Midlands (down 9% from spring 2007), London Overground (down 7%) and First TransPennine Express (down 5%).
First Capital Connect
First Capital Connect and First ScotRail both enjoyed a 5% boost in satisfaction levels in spring this year compared with spring 2007.
Overall, scores for long-distance operators were 4% down.
The survey also showed that just 34% were satisfied with the way train companies dealt with delays and only 38% were happy about the availability of staff, although these were slightly higher scores than last year. Toilet facility satisfaction levels dipped 1% to just 35%.
Although 58% were satisfied with the helpfulness and attitude of rail staff, this was a 4% drop on the spring 2007 figure.
Ticket-buying facility satisfaction levels rose 4% to 71% and personal security at stations was up from 57% in spring last year to 61% in spring 2008. But only 48% were satisfied with facilities and services at stations – 2% down on the spring 2007 figure.
More women were satisfied with their journeys than men. Only 76% of 16-34 year olds reported being satisfied compared to 88% of passengers aged 55 and over.
A total of 87% of leisure travellers were satisfied with their journey compared with only 73% of commuters.
Value for money
Passenger Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: ‘Satisfaction with station and train facilities from long-distance operators dropped across the board and the five operators should see these scores as a red alert.
..the five operators should see these scores as a red alert
‘Likewise, the value for money offered by all train companies remains a primary concern for more than half of the passengers we surveyed. And, with our research showing that value for money is passengers’ number one priority surely this must be addressed by the industry?’
Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc), said: ‘With rail travel up by over 60 million journeys in the past year to one of its highest levels ever achieved, more and more people are satisfied with their rail travel experience.
‘A major investment programme to benefit passengers is underway and this should continue to drive up passenger satisfaction in a number of important categories.’
The association said the value-for-money score had improved by 1% on a year ago and that a fall in this measure since the last autumn survey was consistent with the pattern seen in previous years.
Mr Roberts added: ‘We look forward to working with Passenger Focus on the further work recently requested by the Transport Secretary to understand better customer perceptions of value for money.
‘Train operators and Network Rail continue to work hard to improve the railway for passengers. With punctuality levels now at a near all-time high and 80% of rail journeys made on discounted tickets, we need to understand why value-for-money ratings are not reflecting those improvements.’
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