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Worst train operators for customer satisfaction are all in South East

The three worst train operators for customer satisfaction are in the south-east of England, as commuters become increasingly frustrated with services into the capital.

In a Transport Focus survey of more than 28,000 passengers, Thameslink had the lowest proportion of satisfied passengers at 73 per cent, followed by Southeastern (75 per cent) and Southern (78 per cent).

Travellers using the services have been hit with disruption as long-running improvement work at London Bridge station is carried out.

Overall, however, rail passenger satisfaction in has risen for the first time since 2012.

The highest scores were achieved by First Hull Trains (97 per cent), Heathrow Express (95 per cent), Grand Central (93 per cent) and Merseyrail (93 per cent).

Nationally the overall score for commuter satisfaction was 76 per cent – up from 73 per cent on the previous year.

Some 85 per cent of business travellers are satisfied, compared with 90 per cent of passengers on leisure trips, according to the study.

The proportion of passengers satisfied with the value for money of the ticket nationally was 48 per cent – up from 46 per cent in autumn 2014 – but the figures vary significantly for different regions and routes.

Passengers using the non-stop Gatwick Express between London Victoria and Gatwick Airport – which costs £34.90 for an Anytime Return ticket bought at a station – are least likely to be satisfied with their train fare at just 37 per cent.

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The highest satisfaction score for ticket prices was recorded by open access operator Grand Central, which does not receive a subsidy or pay a premium to the Department for Transport.

Some 76 per cent of passengers using its services – which run from Sunderland and Bradford to London – believe they get value for money.

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “It is good to know that more people are satisfied with their journeys by train but we know that there is more to do to keep improving and to give passengers the excellent services they expect.

“Our railway is benefiting from one of the biggest investment programmes in its history – major improvement work that is producing better stations, better trains and better journeys.

“We are sorry when people do not get the service they deserve. We never want people to suffer delays or disruption. Train operators and Network Rail work hard together every day to deliver a better, more punctual railway and to give people better information when things do go wrong.”

Rail Minister Claire Perry said the overall satisfaction – which is at its highest level since autumn 2012 (85 per cent) – was “a welcome sign that our record investment is starting to deliver results”.

Independent regulator the Office of Rail and Road claimed the figures were an “encouraging step forward” as the industry works to improve standards.

Some 68 per cent of commuters reported being satisfied with the punctuality of services and just 31 per cent satisfied by how well train companies deal with delays.

The satisfaction score for whether there is sufficient room to sit or stand was 54% for commuters, while just 30% of that group were satisfied by the toilet facilities on their train.

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Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Punctuality and crowding drive passenger views of the railway.

“The value for money scores highlight the wide variations around the country and between different routes.

“Passengers rightly expect the train companies and Network Rail to keep to their basic promises, with most trains on time, the right length and with few cancellations.”


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