Southern passenger satisfaction at seven-year high

Passenger satisfaction with Southern services has increased significantly
Passenger satisfaction with Southern services has increased significantly

Satisfaction levels among Southern train passengers are at the highest level for seven years, according to new figures.

Some 81 per cent of Southern customers surveyed said they were satisfied or very satisfied, a 12-percentage point increase from last spring, while the proportion of people saying they were happy with punctuality rose 19 per cent percentage points to 74 per cent.

Passenger satisfaction on Gatwick Express services is two percentage points higher, at 89 per cent, which is also the highest in seven years.

Thameslink, which had fallen to 77 per cent in the autumn 2018 survey following the timetable difficulties in May last year, has recorded its second highest-ever figure of 83 per cent.

The figures are contained in watchdog Transport Focus’ latest passenger survey, with fieldwork carried out between February and April.

All three train companies are run by rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway.

Patrick Verwer, chief executive officer of GTR, said: “Passengers on Southern are now happier with the service than they have been at any time in the past seven years. Across the board, they are more satisfied with the standard of our stations and trains and the smooth-running of the timetable. Underpinning these scores is a consistently reliable service, with nine out of trains running on time.”

He added: “Passenger satisfaction has bounced back on Thameslink and Great Northern as services have recovered from the disruption caused by the spring 2018 timetable change. On Thameslink, passenger satisfaction is at its second highest level. Punctuality and reliability on Thameslink are good, with almost nine in ten trains arriving on time.

“Since the survey was carried out, we have started to replace the UK’s oldest electric fleet with new Class 717 trains on Great Northern and we hope these improvements will be reflected in future surveys.

“However, we know there is always more we can do, particularly on reliability for our Great Northern customers, and we are working hard to make further improvements. I’d like to thank colleagues for their hard work and dedication, and our passengers for their custom, and for taking the time to let us know what they think of our service.

“Partnership working is crucial to GTR’s success and I’d like to acknowledge the vital role played Network Rail and our suppliers.”

Launching the latest results from the twice-yearly survey, Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: “At long last, passenger satisfaction has begun to improve, buoyed in particular by a keener focus on improved reliability and the arrival of new trains on some routes.

“More improvement is essential, but it must be hoped the positive changes captured by the latest National Rail Passenger Survey are the start of a trend that signals the rebuilding of passenger trust in the railway.”

Since last spring, the percentage of Southern passengers who were satisfied with value for money went up four per cent, level of crowding up seven per cent, station satisfaction four per cent, and how well train company deals with delays up by 13 per cent.

What has your experience been on Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink services recently. Email your thoughts to the newsdesk.