Are passengers happy with their private train operators?

An oft repeated argument from advocates of privatised rail, like our friends at the Association of Train Operating Companies, is that privatised rail has delivered record levels of passenger satisfaction.

So the publication by Passenger Focus of the Autumn 2012 national rail passenger survey caught our eye, see today’s Financial Times (£) or Daily Mail for more on this.

Seems less than half of all rail passengers think they get value for money from their service.  Make that around a third if you look at the likes of South West Trains.

Tellingly, availability of staff on trains and stations remains an area of concern as always.

Less than half of rail passengers think there’s enough staff on their trains, yet the government still wants to see Driver Only Operation as the default position for all trains. Only 60 per cent think there’s enough at stations, although that hasn’t stopped the government green lighting ticket off closures and calling for a review of staffing levels as part of new franchise agreements.

Train punctuality, conditions of stock, information all score very highly. All of which largely results from increased public sector investment through Network Rail.

So a mixed picture in terms of passenger attitudes, but the key areas of responsibility of the train operators (pricing and staffing) score poorly.