Passenger Focus, the independent rail consumer watchdog, has conducted a survey of more than 30,000 British rail passengers, and found that 54% aren’t satisfied with the cost of their tickets. This is up from 51% a year ago.
84% said they were satisfied with their overall journey, but the Association of Train Operating Companies has accepted that costs need to be reduced and services improved.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, said the results of the national survey would provide an impetus for the rail industry and the government to “focus resources and effort where passenger satisfaction remains in the doldrums.”
30,590 passengers were surveyed between 1 September and 18 November 2011, before ticket prices increased by an average of 5.9% (and up to 11%), and new unregulated fares were introduced.
Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, acknowledged that “the whole industry needs to focus on tackling costs as well as improving services” and apologised for letting passengers down.
Tim Shoveller, MD at South West Trains, said that above-inflation fare rises had been sought by successive governments looking to reduce the tax-funded subsidy for the industry and ensure investment in the railways continued.
He pointed out that plans have already been set out by the industry to cut costs by £1.3 billion a year by 2019. If this is achieved, fares would not continue rising at such a fast rate.
Passenger satisfaction varied significantly depending on the area. Satisfaction scores for specific routes operated by different companies varied from 72% to 95%.
The lowest overall satisfaction scores were for National Express East Anglia (NXEA), with an average of 77%, whilst the best performing operator was Grand Central, with a 95% satisfaction rating.
Across the UK, satisfaction with punctuality has dropped from 82% last year to 81% now.
Do you travel by train? Let us know what you think of ticket prices and the overall experience.