Complaints rise in 'grudge purchase' rail sector

 

Complaints from rail passengers increased by nearly a third last year, with one in five passengers resigned to poor service, according to new research.

A report by Ombudsman Services, the national private sector ombudsman scheme, says on-going and highly publicised issues in the rail sector saw complaints increase by 30% last year.

”Local
Passengers at London's Waterloo Station

In total, transport complaints increased by 400,000 between 2015 and 2016. Chief Ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith said it is clear that the rail sector is responsible, with complaints up by around half a million, from 1.56m in 2015, to 2.04m last year.

Mr Shand Smith cited rail as an example of a ‘grudge purchase’ sector where where many consumers do not have the option of switching provider and disillusionment is particularly rife.

According to the report 20% of rail passengers are ‘resigned to poor service’. In the ‘Other Transport’ sector (air, bus/coach, taxi) 15% of customers said they were resigned to poor service.

Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald MP, said the report ‘shows how the franchise system of running our railways is clearly failing passengers’, with train operators ‘prioritising profits over passengers’.

He said: ‘With the average price of season tickets rising by 27% over the past seven years, three times faster than wages, it should not be the case that one in five passengers have come to expect a poor service from the railways.

‘The report highlights how long-term issues, such as overcrowding and punctuality, have resulted in these “high levels of disillusionment” amongst passengers.’

Mr McDonald re-iterated Labour’s pledge to take the railways back into public ownership.

According to the report, there were 4 million complaints in the transport sector last year - 7% of all consumer complaints - with a further 1.2 million complaints about parking.

 

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