/ Travel & Leisure

Do train companies act on your feedback?

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Since the launch of our Get Trains On Track campaign you’ve been sharing your train tales with us. We’ve now delivered these to the train companies and asked them to outline how they’ll act on your feedback.

Nearly 1,000 comments have been sorted and packed up into dossiers for each of the train companies. They cover everything from punctuality to cleanliness, and they’re now in the hands of the train operators.

Feedback for train companies

Alex was pleased with East Coast Trains’ response:

‘My partner and I went to Scotland. Both trains were cold. I emailed them and within five days they had sent a letter of apology and two £15 vouchers as way of compensation.’

Abbie, a South West Trains passenger, is unhappy with the way compensation is awarded when things go wrong:

‘Not only were they very late arriving but they were so overcrowded one person fainted and had to be helped off at the next stop. When I asked about compensation I was told I had to wait two months to see if it was classified as a void day when a percentage of trains were over 40 minutes late. Their customer services couldn’t tell me what the percentage was.’

Charles, a First Capital Connect passenger, thinks that ‘the cost of travelling simply doesn’t match punctuality or the general on-board experience.’

Delays and packed trains

Oliver, a Greater Anglia passenger, told us:

Trains are delayed on a daily basis; every train pretty much. There is regular bus replacement. There are regular cancellations in which the most ridiculous excuses are given eg too windy, too many leaves on the tracks, too much rain. The entire system/model is a shoddy shower of sugar.’

Marianne is fed up with crowded trains:

‘My biggest problem – is that in the heart of rush hour, Southern still put on trains with only four carriages. Which means maybe half the people on the platform might be able to force themselves on, and the rest of us are left waiting even longer for the next late train. Why, when the lines are so busy, would you put a four car train on the line where a 10 car train is needed?’

We want train companies to outline how they will act on your feedback to improve passenger satisfaction. In particular, we want to hear how they’ll pro-actively encourage, listen to and respond to the feedback they’re given on a daily basis. What do you hope they’ll say?

Robin J Allison says:
18 August 2014

Our Rail system once the benchmark for the rest of the world has been allowed to decay and decompose through lack of investment and maintenance. Now we must pay the price for this with overpriced engineering upgrades and maintenance which in turn create travel problems in the form of delays, overcrowding and overpriced tickets.
Only the UK was capable of ruining the most comprehensive passenger and cargo rail transport system with its inappropriate cuts and closures of the 1960’s. A clear case of how to mismanage a transport infrastructure that worked.
Now we as TAX payers and passengers alike are forced to pay for a very expensive catch-up while Government of the day allowed the whole system to fail with the appointment of inappropriate management and financial shortfalls.

Wayne Lawrence says:
18 August 2014

Train companies do not act on feedback. The compensation scheme means nothing as the delay statistics are calculated across the whole service and not the service commuters pay for. Train companies operate a two tier ticket system for which commuters pay a hefty premium yet they do not operate a two tier stats system which they should. i.e. calculate peak service availability and refund commuters on this.

Refunds aren’t fair either since the only thing this leads to over the period of the next year is increased fares to cover these costs. Train companies should be forced to reduce the fares in accordance with service availability each year. Effectively every delay commuters get refunded for in fare decrease the following year. (that is a fare policy)

Jonathan Rickels says:
18 August 2014

Saturday July 26th my wife & I returned from Brighton (Southern) via Victoria & Kings X to Arlesey.

The Brighton to Victoria train was over 30 mins late leaving and made very slow progress due to a broken down train aheda up the line, arriving at Victoria 1hr 30 mins late.

Southern made no attempt to limit the numbers of passengers who tried to board an already crowded train at the 3 intermmediate stops.

Nor did they attempt to add more carriages to a train they knew, (numbers of ticket sales?, traffic analysis, etc.) would likely be very crowded!!

On that day Victoria was a seething mass of people all seemingly moving in different directions; no particular flow to follow. Just as it was on the outward journey on Thursday July 24th.

By contrast Kings Cross was much more civilised.

This is a 50 mile journey that still takes 50 minutes on the fastetst trains, just as it did 60 years ago!!

By contrast the journey from Kings X to Arlesey, approximately 40 miles takes 33 minutes on the regular trains; an improvement over the years of some 7 minutes.

On our journey down to Kings X on thursday july 24th we were similarly held up, this time by a track worker who had fallen & broken his leg; needing unrestricted access & track closure for the ambulance & paramedics. That was cleared quickly & promptly.

That train was also crowded, & only eight carriages. Contrast this with standard practice on the Netherlands railway, the Spoorweg; where 12 double deck carriage trains with specific space provided for disabled, bicycles, prams, push chairs & large luggage are common on all services but the stopping trains, which are usually not less than eight carriages. And though they too have their share of obstructions, actual breakdowns are rare.


Hi Jonathan, sorry to hear about that long delay and crowding. Have you put in a claim for compensation for your delay? Southern operate DelayRepay so you can claim for half your return or 100% of your single ticket from Brighton to Victoria. There’s information on how to make a claim on our consumer rights site – http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/how-to-claim-refunds-for-train-delays-and-cancellations.

I’m going to have to Google double-decker trains! Sounds very interesting.


The Southern Railway experimented with double-decker trains in the 1930’s and the coaches stayed in use for quite a long time on one route but the scheme was not extended across the network. The trains did provide additional – but not twice as much – capacity but at the expense of rather cramped seating conditions and awkward internal arragements. This caused boarding and alighting difficulties and protracted dwell-times at stations. Many continental trains include double-deck coaches in suburban trains; the ‘loading gauge’ [the space between tracks, through bridges and tunnels, and alongside platforms] is much more generous on continental railways so the carriages can be higher and wider than on UK railways. In North America and elsewhere I believe there are many long-distance trains with upper levels, sometimes used as observation cars or dining saloons. The favoured solution to capacity problems in the UK has been longer trains and higher frequency. Ultimately, because of unwise line closures in the 1960’s, we are also having to build entirely new limited-stop lines to provide relief to the busiest main lines.

bruce cooper says:
18 August 2014

When are Southeastern going to provide some sort of access for disabled passengers travelling towards London from Herne Bay? My partner uses a walking aid and cannot manage the stairs without assistance. When we have to travel towards London, I have to leave my partner or the walking aid while I take one or the other across. Luckily, we haven`t missed a train yet! No doubt that will come! Disabled people have to travel as well Southeastern!

Brian Rosen says:
22 August 2014

Although not disabled myself, I have become appalled on behalf of everyone who uses Victoria mainline terminus (a major hub for Southeastern Trains which you mentioned) and the adjacent London Underground station, at the lack of proper access for disabled people, people with heavy luggage (this is an international station serving Gatwick Airport), people with small children, people with pushchairs, and people temporarily affected by injuries, etc etc. It is truly pitiful seeing these people struggling to get through the station complex with all its different stairways. There has been no effort to improve facilities for decades. In response to a letter I recently wrote to Network Rail about this, I understand the earliest we are likely to see improvements for disabled access is 2018. Given the sheer numbers of passengers who use this station, this is totally unacceptable. Particularly symptomatic of the poor planning and decision-taking by those in charge, is that a whole new fixed stairway was recently constructed between the mainline station and the underground, whereas a set of escalators would (to me at least) have been an overriding obvious priority for using the same available space. Who makes these kinds of decisions, and why?


A massive improvement project is currently underway at Victoria Underground station and I assume that step-free access from street level to the platforms [and probably onto the trains] will be a priority feature. Getting onto the Circle and District line platforms there is especially difficult right now; at least there are escalators down to the Victoria line. As you say, the main Underground concourse should have a step-free connection provided to the national rail station concourse as a matter of urgency. Hundreds of thousands of struggling passengers also use this station en route to or from the Victoria coach station.

Transport for London [TfL] issue a tremendously comprehensive and highly detailed map and station index [even showing the height of the step into the train and the gap between the platform edge and the door threshold] for stations which provide accessibility [it’s called the “Step free Tube Guide” and is available on-line and as a printed leaflet] to help with journet planning. Unfortunately a large number of very important stations are still awaiting their accessibility upgrades