Rail passenger satisfaction 'little changed in a decade'

Commuters waiting at a station Image copyright Getty Images

Train operators handle passenger complaints and delays almost as badly as they did a decade ago, according to research from consumer group Which?.

It also found punctuality levels on Britain's railways were at their worst level in 10 years.

The group said passengers were being "failed" and urged the government to push through plans to introduce a rail ombudsman to better handle disputes.

But industry body the Rail Delivery Group said complaints were falling.

Following an analysis of National Rail survey data, Which? found that passengers' satisfaction with how delays are handled stands at 35%, while just 46% are happy with the way complaints are managed.

This is compared with 32% and 42% respectively a decade ago.

Punctuality satisfaction has fallen by five percentage points over the same period to 72% - a 10-year low.

'Not good enough'

In a separate survey in January, Which? found the three worst train lines for delays were Southern Rail, Thameslink and Great Northern, and South Eastern.

On Thursday, the owners of Southern, Govia Thameslink Railway, were fined £13.4m for poor performance following a wave of delays and strikes this year and last.

Alex Hayman, from Which?, said: "Our analysis highlights that the rail industry has been failing its passengers, particularly in the way they handle delays and manage complaints.

"This just isn't good enough for the millions of people who are reliant on rail services on a daily basis."

He added: "The government's election manifesto made strong promises to help rail passengers, who deserve much better when rail services fail to deliver.

"That is why we need to see the powers and duties of the regulator strengthened, with the government swiftly pressing forward on its plans to introduce a rail ombudsman."

But a spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said companies were investing to improve services, providing more rolling stock and simplifying fares.

"We're making journeys better and we're sorry when customers don't get the service they expect," he said.

"Four in five people say they are satisfied with their train journey and the long-term trend is one of falling customer complaints," he added.

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