Consumer group Which? has released their annual rail passenger survey for 2015, illustrating a worrying picture of passengers “pushed to distraction”, experiencing long delays and low levels of customer service, in contrast to paying high fare prices.
Rail commuters from the south-east into London are especially likely to have their journeys delayed, according to the survey, with passengers giving Southern Trains the worst score of any service, with 39 per cent of passengers reporting a delay on their last journey.
The survey was conducted in November 2014, when Which? gathered 7,309 responses from commuter and leisure travellers about the journeys they had taken in the previous 12 months.
The Which? survey follows the release of the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) conducted by independent watchdog Passenger Focus, which surveys passengers on the entire rail network each Spring and Autumn. The Autumn 2014 NRPS survey found that the percentage of passengers satisfied with their journey overall was significantly down on the previous year, and similarly for the proportion of passengers satisfied with punctuality/reliability.
The survey by Which? also follows figures released by Network Rail recently, which revealed that over a third of trains were late in 2014, many of them on peak commuter services. Network Rail reported that in the 12 months leading up to 6 December 2014, just 64.6 per cent of trains reached their destination within so-called ‘right time’, which refers to trains arriving within 59 seconds of their scheduled arrival.
In January 2015, passengers were faced with another wage-busting fare rise of up to 2.5 per cent, including significant rises on season tickets for commuter services. Passengers are being asked to pay substantially more of their wages getting to work, while services are increasingly unreliable and overcrowded. It is no surprise, therefore, that the survey by Which? chimes with the NRPS in revealing how unsatisfied the majority of passengers are with rail services.
Action for Rail research shows that passengers using the UK’s privatised rail network spend substantially more of their wages getting to work than commuters using state owned railways in France, Italy and Spain. Research also shows that £1.2bn is wasted on privatisation every year. Figures released by the Office for Rail Regulation (ORR) today show that the government/taxpayer subsidised private train companies to the tune of £3.8bn in 2013-14, while train companies paid out £183m in dividends to shareholders.