Trains survey shows passengers' frustration

Northern was one of seven train operators who had failed to satisfy enough passengers according to Transport Focus
Northern was one of seven train operators who had failed to satisfy enough passengers according to Transport Focus

Lancashire-based rail champion for disabled passengers has said the rail sector need to improve communications in the wake of a survey showing growing dissatisfaction with the railways.

Stephen Brooks was speaking after Transport Focus released its latest National Passenger Survey.

Stephen Brookes

Stephen Brookes

The results showed satisfaction had fallen to the lowest level since 2007 following last year’s chaos following the timetable changes and improvement work over-running. Satisfaction fell with seven operators including Northern and TransPennine Express.

Passengers' overall satisfaction dropped to 79 per cent, which meant that more than one in five passengers were not satisfied.

Blackpool-based Mr Brookes said: “I have read through the results of the latest passenger survey by Transport Focus and while dismayed at the negative results, it would be unbelievable if I said I was surprised.

"The Transport Focus survey results demonstrate the specific impact on disabled and older people who depend on or require safe and reasonable access and appropriate confidence in efficient travel assistance.

“A range of problems, not least the May 2018 timetable mess, has created distrust. We need to see and hear better communication between all stakeholders and train companies and we need clarity and consistency in what operators offer.

"Too much of a 'blame culture' exists between companies, stakeholders and unions which erodes confidence.

Anthony Smith, from Transport Focus, said: “Passenger irritation at poor performance erodes their most basic trust in the industry.”

He added that continuing fare rises also sapped travellers' confidence and said that a better value for money and more reliable rail survey must arrive soon.

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said: “Punctuality is the bedrock of satisfaction for our customers and at the moment in too many places, we are not getting it right.

"Working together, we are investing billions of pounds in a long-term plan to rebuild key parts of the network to improve punctuality while putting thousands of new and refurbished carriages on track to make journeys more comfortable.

“In parallel we are pushing for more fundamental reform to fix the railway for the future, including developing proposals for regulatory change to make the fares system easier, and engaging fully with the government’s independent review of how the whole railway is bolted together.”