Southern Rail voted UK's worst train service for third year in a row

Southern scored poorly for value for money, reliability and punctuality

Stephen Little
Tuesday 16 January 2018 18:04
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Rail fares rose on average by 3.4 per cent in January
Rail fares rose on average by 3.4 per cent in January

Southern Rail has been voted the worst train service in the country for the third year in a row, with only 28 per cent of customers satisfied with the service, new research has found.

According to a survey of 2,865 commuters conducted by consumer group Which?, Southern scored just one star out of a possible five for value for money, reliability and punctuality. Some 37 per cent of the commuters, questioned between October and November, said that they thought the service had become worse in the last year.

South Eastern and Thameslink & Great Northern tied for second-worst position, with just 39 per cent of customers of both saying that they were satisfied with the service. The bottom three rated train services are all owned by Govia Thameslink Railway.

Grand Central, which operates services between London and the North East, topped the table with 64 per cent of customers saying they are satisfied. Translink NI scored second place, with Virgin Trains West Coast and Chiltern Railways occupying joint-third spot.

The survey found that while 20 per cent of commuters have noticed an improvement in their train service in the past year, 13 per cent said that the service had become worse.

The poll also found that 25 per cent of commuters considered the process of claiming compensation difficult. Just 37 per cent of all train passengers who are eligible for compensation said that they actually claim it.

“Fares are going up but frustrated and long suffering passengers affected by seemingly never ending delays, cancellations and dirty trains don’t feel that their services are getting any better,” said Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets at Which?.

“The problems don’t stop there. People are also finding it difficult to claim compensation when things go wrong. Automatic compensation must be introduced across the industry so that people can get the money they are owed,” he said.

Last July, a survey of over 60,000 passengers by the independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus found that 83 per cent of customers are satisfied with their train journeys.

Responding to the Which? survey, a spokesperson for Govia Thameslink Railway said that much of the disruption on Southern Railway had been caused by “union opposition to our modernisation programme which is being carried out to transform services on the most congested routes in the country”.

“Southern also operates a commuter service of over 2,200 services a day and is compared with other firms which operate far fewer trains and, in many cases, operate on long distance leisure routes,” the spokesperson added.

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