State owned East Coast has best passenger satisfaction of any long-distance rail franchise

Seven large train operators score satisfaction rates of less than 50 per cent


A new passenger survey has today revealed the shocking level of dissatisfaction with the UK’s train services.

Seven services scored ratings of less than 50 per cent in a poll by Which?, with Thameslink & Great Northern in the bottom slot with a satisfaction rate of just 43 per cent. Customers said almost everything about this service was poor, including value for money, punctuality and cleanliness.

The state-owned East Coast came fifth overall but achieved the best customer satisfaction rating of all long-distance rail franchises.


Trains top


Trains bottom

Abellio Greater Anglia, First Great Western, Northern Rail, ScotRail, Southeastern, Southern and South West Trains were all rated as poor value.

Topping the survey were two small train services, Grand Central and First Hull Train, scoring 76 and 69 per cent respectively. Both run only a handful of services between London and the north, but passengers praised the cleanliness, friendly staff and the ease of getting a seat.

Delays were highlighted as the main problem with the services; Which? found that a quarter of all passengers were delayed when they last travelled by train, and one in 20 were delayed long enough to claim compensation from the train company. But three quarters of those who were delayed for more than an hour (who would have qualified for a full refund) were not told that they could claim compensation.

Commenting on the results of the survey as well as an ORR report into rail industry finances, Labour’s shadow transport minister Lilian Greenwood said:

“The forthcoming East Coast sell-off is set to be a terrible blunder that puts privatisation ahead of passengers’ and taxpayers’ best interests.

“The reports from both Which? and the Office of Rail Regulation 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 per cent since 2010.

“East Coast had better passenger satisfaction than any long-distance franchise. This is a service that the government rushed to privatise without even allowing the publicly owned British operator to bid for the route. Labour will end the bias against the public sector and institute a new body for running the railway which will have a strong voice for passengers at its heart.”

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4 Responses to “State owned East Coast has best passenger satisfaction of any long-distance rail franchise”

  1. JoeDM

    My daily commute to and from London is mostly on time, clean, and a much better service than when I started doing it in the 1980s.

  2. Richard Gadsden

    This is silly. There are only three long-distance franchises (East Coast, West Coast, CrossCountry). All the other franchises are either local-only (Northern, Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern, Southeastern, London Midland, Essex Thameside) or combine long-distance with local (Great Western, Greater Anglia, South West, Wales, Scotland, Chilterns, TransPennine, East Midlands).

    Merseyrail and London Overground are concessions (not franchises) and Grand Central and Hull Trains are open-access operators, not franchises.

    East Coast is actually the second-best franchise (the three other operators above them aren’t franchises).

    “Best”, of three, very narrowly over the second-best.

    They are the third-best long-distance operator out of five (Grand Central and Hull Trains are both long-distance; Grand Central runs Sunderland-London and Bradford-London, while Hull Trains runs Hull-London)

    You’d have a much better case by looking at Translink, which had a much better score (69%), has to operate both local and long-distance services, and is a properly public-sector operation in Northern Ireland, with control of track as well as trains. But that would involve talking about how franchising doesn’t actually work.

    We don’t need public-sector franchises; we need a vertically-integrated railway, with open-access operators layered on top for when someone has a good idea that the public-sector chooses not to provide.

  3. Leon Wolfeson

    And you object to it being better because?

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    […] any other rail franchise, returned profits of £1 billion back into the public purse, and had the highest satisfaction rate of any long-distance rail […]

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