Train firm is ‘most improved’ in the UK

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SHEFFIELD to London rail firm East Midlands Trains received the biggest increase in customer satisfaction of any UK operator in the latest national survey - one of only two companies serving South Yorkshire which saw an improvement.

Watchdog Passenger Focus handed out questionnaires to thousands of people across the UK last Autumn, who were asked to comfort, punctuality, reliability and value for money.

East Midlands Trains’ satisfaction rating jumped four per cent on Autumn 2009 to 88 per cent - its best-ever score, making the company the most improved operator in the UK.

There were significant increases in ratings for value for money - up 10 per cent to 57 per cent - and for punctuality and reliability - which rose three per cent to 87 per cent.

Train comfort and cleanliness had also improved.

Satisfaction with the company’s Liverpool-Norwich service, linking Sheffield with Manchester and Nottingham, rose 11 per cent to 94 per cent after trains on the route were refurbished.

East Midlands Trains managing director Tim Shoveller said: “These results, which signify the best ever level of satisfaction among our passengers, really are representative of the huge investment we are making to improve every aspect of the passenger journey.

“With over £40 million being spent on improvements to our stations and every single one of our trains, we are confident that passenger satisfaction will continue to grow.

“It is particularly pleasing that the Liverpool to Norwich route, which had historically suffered from a lack of investment and resources prior to the start of our franchise, has seen such a fantastic boost.

“We’re delighted with these results and would like to pay tribute to the hard work of our team.”

The only other company responsible for improved satisfaction was First TransPennine Express, which runs services between Doncaster, Sheffield and Manchester Airport.

Its rating increased one per cent to 87 per cent - but the firm’s scores for value for money fell four per cent to 59 per cent and punctuality and reliability declined three per cent to 84 per cent.

Of other operators, local services provider Northern’s overall satisfaction remained at 82 per cent.

East Coast, running main line services through Doncaster, had the same 89 per cent rating as 2009.

Inter-city operator Cross Country, which serves Sheffield and Doncaster, suffered a one per cent fall to 84 per cent.

Value for money ratings improved at East Coast and Northern but fell at Cross Country.

Punctuality and reliability ratings were down at Cross Country, East Coast and Northern.

Passengers’ main gripe remains train toilets, with most firms having a satisfaction rating of around 50 per cent.

Northern, which has a fleet of old trains, achieved one of the lowest ratings of 39 per cent.