South Yorkshire rail passengers ‘happy with services’

Rail satisfaction levels have remained around the same for train operators that serve Sheffield
Rail satisfaction levels have remained around the same for train operators that serve Sheffield
Have your say

Most rail passengers across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire are satisfied with the service they receive from different operators, a new study has found.

But the biggest gripes included concerns about how delays are dealt with, the amount of room for passengers on trains and the value for money of tickets.

Around 27,000 people were interviewed around the country for the National Rail Passenger Survey by Passenger Focus, with 82 per cent satisfied with their last journey.

Of the operators serving the region, East Coast did best with a 91 per cent overall satisfaction rating - up four per cent on last year.

East Midlands Trains recorded an 87 per cent satisfaction rating, TransPennine Express 85 per cent and Cross Country 82 per cent.

But Northern Rail was named among the operators with the lowest-satisfaction ratings in the country, with an 80 per cent rating. However, this represented a four per cent improvement on the results of the spring 2013 survey.

Passengers had greater concerns about the value for money provided by their journeys.

Only 49 per cent of East Midlands Trains customers thought they had been provided with value for money, with just 52 per cent of Cross Country passengers satisfied in this area.

For both Northern Rail and TransPennine Express, 54 per cent of people said they were satisfied they had been given value for money, with 60 per cent of East Coast customers happy.

TransPennine Express also came in for criticism for the amount of room provided to passengers to sit or stand. Just 55 per cent of those interviewed were happy with the company - a drop of 10 per cent on last year’s survey.

East Coast performed best in this area, with 85 per cent of passengers satisfied with the space on the operator’s trains, six per cent higher than last year.

Many passengers also raised concerns about how operators dealt with delays.

For Northern Rail only 43 per cent of people were happy with how the company looked after passengers when delays occurred. But this represented an improvement on Spring 2013, when only 29 per cent were satisfied.

Even the best performing regional operator in this area, East Coast, recorded a satisfaction rating of just 58 per cent.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus’s chief executive, said: “It is good news that overall satisfaction with Britain’s railways remains steady.

“Getting trains on time is the key factor underpinning passenger satisfaction while how delays are dealt with is the key factor behind scores for passengers’ dissatisfaction. Better communications during weather-related disruptions may have ensured passengers’ satisfaction in dealing with delays has held up with some train companies.

“Satisfaction with value for money varies even more widely among operators but, while still low, has increased slightly from 42 to 45 per cent. This is likely to reflect the Governments’ decision to bear down on fare rises last year. However, it does vary widely between routes from 29 to 79 per cent.”

East Coast managing director Karen Boswell said: “We’re very proud to have achieved the top position of any franchised long-distance train operator in Britain. It’s the first time we or any of our predecessors on the East Coast Main Line have achieved this. We’re grateful to all our customers for their encouraging and positive endorsement about the improvements we’ve made over the last four and a half years.

“This result comes as East Coast trains are also breaking new punctuality records. An average of 92 per cent of our trains reached their destination on time in April, May and June – that’s the best-ever reliability on our route in the first three months of any previous financial year.

“During this period, delays attributable to infrastructure failures, which have for so long hindered our efforts to provide a high quality and reliable service, have fallen to the lowest levels since industry records began almost two decades ago. We know a reliable service is a high priority for our customers, and we’ll continue to work hard with our infrastructure provider Network Rail to build on this positive performance. We’d especially like to thank Network Rail for their efforts in helping to achieve this outcome.”

Neil Micklethwaite, customer service and commercial director for East Midlands Trains, said: “It’s great to see that our continued investment in customer service training and improved facilities is delivering real results for our customers.

“Major investment has been made to improve every area of our business, and the survey reflects that and the hard work and effort of our employees in delivering significantly improved customer service. We know that our people make a real difference in providing a high quality experience for our passengers and it’s good to see this recognised in the latest results.

“We are continuing to improve the service we offer to customers, and over the coming year we’ll be making further improvements at our stations with the completion of major investment works at Nottingham, the opening of three major new cycle hubs and further station accessibility enhancements our customers can look forward to.

“We’re confident that the completion of these schemes, as well as our continued investment in training and improved processes, will help drive up customer satisfaction even further.”