Southern remains worst in country for passenger satisfaction

Southern train
Southern train

Southern’s passenger satisfaction remains the worst in the country despite significantly improving its score over the past year, according to new survey results.

Transport Focus’s latest National Rail Passenger Survey, which asked more than 27,000 rail travellers about their last journey between September and November 2017, was published today (Tuesday January 30).

Southern’s score remained the worst in the country, with 72 per cent of passengers saying they were satisfied with the service run by Govia Thameslink Railway, which is a seven per cent improvement from the same point in 2016.

Southern recorded improvements to the number of passengers satisfied with punctuality and reliability, the availability of staff at stations, provision of service information, and the way staff help passengers asking for information.

Meanwhile Thameslink services, also run by GTR, have seen a ten per cent improvement from autumn 2016, up to 83 per cent, which is its highest level since 1999 when the survey began.

The brand also recorded its highest ever overall train satisfaction rating following the introduction of its new fleet, a massive improvement to its score for information provided during journeys and was also recognised for better punctuality and reliability.

Nick Brown, chief operating officer at GTR, said: “More passengers than ever before are saying they are satisfied with our Thameslink service thanks to the hard work our staff, new spacious trains, and our focus on punctuality and customer service.

“On Southern, after last year’s intense period of industrial action, our services are improving and we are determined to build on that.

“This May, we’ll be improving the service further through our RailPlan 20/20 modernisation programme. We’ll have longer trains on Thameslink and more new trains on Great Northern. A brand new timetable in May will make Southern more reliable and add another 80 stations to the cross-London Thameslink route, creating capacity for up to 40,000 extra passengers into London.

“GTR was created to bring together and transform four of the busiest rail routes in the UK. Our network is not directly comparable to any other because it is undergoing one of the biggest change programmes ever seen in the UK.”

For Southeastern 80 per cent of passengers said they were satisfied, while 81 per cent of respondents were satisfied with Gatwick Express trains.

Overall 81 per cent of passengers nationally were satisfied with their rail journeys.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: “For passengers, it’s all about performance – these value for money scores reflect patchy reliability.

“In London and the South East, Southern, Thameslink and Southeastern passengers have felt performance pick up.

“However, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and Arriva Trains Wales passengers, among others, have been buffeted by poorer performance.

“Train companies and Network Rail need to keep to their basic promises and deliver a relentless focus on day-to-day performance and better information during disruption.”

Southern rail passengers suffered repeated delays and disruption from late 2015 through to the middle of 2017 due to a combination of staff shortages, industrial action, management issues and Network Rail infrastructure problems.

Although train drivers’ union ASLEF has ended its dispute with GTR, the RMT union is continuing to fight the further extension of driver-only operation on Southern services raising concerns over safety and access.

As part of the changes its members have seen their roles changed from guards to on-board supervisors.