Depending on what time you catch a train your opinion of the service might be drastically different. Our recent survey shows leisure travellers seem to be getting a pretty good deal – spacious, clean, efficient trains. But commuters are seriously suffering.
When you ask a commuter what their thoughts are towards their train company they’ll probably tell you that their train is over-crowded, expensive, possibly slow, and delays happen far too often.
I know I’m one of them. I’m not alone either, when I catch up with my family our conversation regularly features a rail tale or two – delays, overcrowding, and the costs of our tickets.
But, then for others, such as my friend who’s a new mum, she thinks the train is great. And it is for her; it’s reasonably priced, free for the little one, easy to use, she gets a seat and there’s rarely a delay… but then again she is using off-peak trains.
There seems a distinct and growing gap between the satisfied and unsatisfied rail users. Shouldn’t we all have a good service regardless of the time of day?
We’ve seen some welcome changes to our railways over the last 20 years; importantly safety has improved, air-conditioning and electric doors are now on most trains, and the introduction of live departure boards. But none of these have really addressed the increase in passenger numbers.
What’s more, our recent survey of train passengers found that the vast majority (72%) of passengers don’t feel like they’re getting value for money on their train service. In particular commuting passengers feel particularly peeved; we found that 32% of commuters experienced delays on their most recent rail journey.
We assessed the impact of delays and asked commuters on the poor-scoring services to keep a journey diary. Bromley commuter, Vicky C, shared her video diary with us:
Now, not all train services are performing badly; some are doing quite well. Especially those long-distance services, our survey found that only 15% of leisure rail passengers experienced delays on their most recent journey.
But the bottom line is that rail users are paying more, using the networks more, and yet there’s a distinct gap in the quality of train services. Surely rail users deserve better.
While there are a few areas where train companies could make improvements, delays to services are certainly a good place to start. The impact of a delay can be huge too.
As one supporter Jean, told us:
‘My train had to stand in a station for more than an hour and I had to pay £140 to take a taxi to London to make a hospital appointment. No compensation was offered at the time.’
So today we’re dropping in at some of the busiest train stations to speak with rail passengers about our campaign to Make Rail Refunds Easier and raise awareness of your rights to compensation if your train is delayed.
Back in December we used our super-complaint powers to call Office of Rail and Road to take action on rail delay compensation. If you too agree improvements to the refund process for rail delays are needed then back our campaign today.
So have you suffered a poor rail service recently? Do you think that train companies should do more to improve their services?