Rail passengers travelling from south east England into London are the most likely to be delayed, a poll suggests.
A survey of over 7,300 train travellers by Which? found 29% had suffered a delay on their last journey, amid growing dissatisfaction with the country’s largest operators.
The research came as regulators highlighted passengers were covering an increasing proportion of the cost of rail travel amid falling government subsidies.
Passengers travelling with operator Southern were the worst hit by delays over the last 12 months, with almost four in 10 saying they were held up the last time they travelled. In contrast, only 14% of passengers travelling with C2C reported hold-ups – making it the least delayed operator.
Rail customers least satisfied with their service were passengers travelling on Thameslink and Great Northern/ First Capital Connect routes. Grand Central topped the satisfaction table with a score of 76%, marking the highest ever result in the history of the survey.
All of the six lowest scoring train operators in terms of satisfaction were also some of Britain’s biggest, with five also sitting near the bottom of last year’s results.
Responding to the survey, a spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail operators and Network Rail, said: ‘While almost nine out 10 trains now arrive on schedule, we are investing billions of pounds so that we make good on that promise more often and improve passengers’ satisfaction with our services.
‘Compensation payments are increasingly generous and easy to apply for and are often made regardless of the cause of a delay. This is why the amount paid out to passengers under the Delay Repay scheme increased by £10m between 2013 and 2014, despite punctuality improving over that period.’
Yet Martin Abrams, public transport campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport, demanded train companies and Government ‘up their game’ and support devolution of control ‘away from the dead hand of Westminster and toward people on the ground who know best what the priorities for passengers are’.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, added: ‘Long delays and consistently low levels of customer service are driving commuters to distraction. Passengers often have little or no choice as to the rail companies they travel with, so as ticket prices continue to rocket, more must be done to improve customers’ satisfaction and to inform people of their right to a refund as a result of delays.’
Today’s poll followed publication of the latest rail industry financial report from the Office for Rail Regulation (ORR), which said rail industry income from passenger fares had grown by over 10% to £8.2bn since 2010/11 in line with rising journeys.
The report said passengers contributions to running rail services had risen from 55.6% to 61.5% over the past four years. Government funding for the industry has fallen 16.4% since 2010/11 and now represents 28.5% of the industry’s total income.
Although D=during this time there has also been sustained growth of passenger journeys - increasing by 16.6% (260 million journeys) - and the amount of freight carried on the network, increasing by 18.1% (3.5bn net tonne kms).
ORR chief executive, Richard Price, said: ‘Passengers are increasingly the main funder of the railways, and must be central to developing plans for future services and investment. ORR's report also highlights that the rail industry has been successful in keeping costs stable despite carrying significantly more passengers.’
Labour’s shadow rail minister Lilian Greenwood MP said both reports ‘underline the need for rail industry reform – reforms David Cameron’s Government have been unwilling to consider at a time when fares are up by more than 20% since 2010’.