/ Travel & Leisure

Picture your train travel heaven…


Our latest research reveals that rail passengers experience delayed, dirty and overcrowded trains. With trust in rail also slipping, we want to know what your idea of a better rail service would be.

Earlier this year we called out for people to share with us their stories of train hell – we wanted to know what makes your experiences of rail journeys so unpleasant.

Thousands responded to our call for information and after sifting through these accounts, it certainly hasn’t painted a pretty picture of rail travel.

Rail services

Many train company were mentioned in these stories. We had reports of dirty and old trains, passengers packed in like sardines every time they travelled and many expressed irritation at delays and cancellations.

One supporter, Jerry, told us his train travel frustrations

‘Too many to mention – cancelled trains – trains curtailed – no trains to route that I usually use and every day in the morning mass overcrowding with fights on some days to squeeze further in – animals are treated better.’

Perhaps unsurprisingly there has been a significant shift in consumer trust across the rail industry – falling 11% in a year, from 37% in March 2016 to 26% in March 2017.

In March we ran a nationally representative survey asking people what their experience of train travel had been in the past six months. Many people reported problems with getting a seat due to overcrowding on at least one occasion and one in seven said this happened regularly.

We also had reports of delays with many passengers experiencing delays of up to 15 minutes and one in ten saying that they faced frequent delays.

It’s clear that the rail sector is failing its passengers too often.

For Fabiano there’s an injustice when you consider the cost of the service:

‘It’s unacceptable, I’m not getting the train for free and I’m not asking any favour! I’m paying an expensive ticket to get a horrible service.’

Taking action

But it’s hardly breaking news that people aren’t overly satisfied with the standard of rail services in the UK. As many of you will know we’ve been campaigning on problems with the rail sector for some time now, and while we’ve seen some progress with wins like the extension of the Consumer Rights Act to cover rail travel, there’s still work to be done.

That’s why we want the next government to take action and ensure passengers get a much better standard of service. It’s not acceptable that passengers should have to endure such poor experiences on our railways.

We believe change will be possible by introducing an independent, statutory ombudsman, and a stronger regulator that’s prepared to stand up for passengers.

Travelling by train shouldn’t be a hellish experience. So how would you make train travel more pleasurable? What would your train travel heaven look like? Do you want the government to take action and improve rail standards?


One thing is for sure that renationalisation in tandem with a Labour government will only result in poorer more expensive services. I am old enough to remember the filthy carriages, frequent strikes, late running services, curly dried up sandwiches, and lack of change at the buffet in the pre-privatisation era. And if you think that fares will get cheaper, this will only be achieved by increases in subsidies that will be result in higher general taxes.

I dont use the train services – as the prices are a bit overpriced, i dont like to stand when i have paid for a seat, and information about problems not easy to find eg Nov 16 booked 2 senior tickets from Newport to Birmingham the show was cancelled we couldn’t get a refund, even though we hadn’t picked up the tickets. So its bus for us.

All we need are a seat on a train (with enough capacity), a train that arrives where it should be that is on time (i.e. reliability – where maintenance is done and does not interfere with the weekly time tables).

Peter says:
15 May 2017

They should never been sold off. They were just about being the best of European systems when they were sold!!!! Trouble now is all the folks who knew. how to run a railway will have retired .

Will only work for the people when owned by the people

JJ says:
16 May 2017

I’m afraid I’m the last person to ask as I use the Train once a year. I book about a month in advance, adjust the times to get best value foe money. and have no complaints.
But I can see that people who have to travel daily are getting a raw deal.
But what else is there Car?? Bus??

Gordon Pankhurst says:
16 May 2017

Just got back from a short stay in Italy. Used their train from Parma to Bologna, about an hour. Much cheaper than a similar journey in UK, train on time, plenty of seats available, lots of legroom etc. We could learn a lot from the Italians.

Hull trains leaves their diesel engines running, belching​ out blue smoke (particulates) while they wait to leave at King’s Cross station which is an enclosed space. Neither they, nor network rail care about the environment or the health of the people at the station.

Like many complaints against many services…..I say…..PRINT MORE MONEY…….its the only way to improve and manage Rail Services; over-inflated power charges; petrol; food; and so on.
I feel I am lucky to be 70 and know I probably will suffer the many failures in the world, only for a relatively short time; Were I much younger I would panic and stop watching the news altogether!

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The reason train travel is expensive is that unlike the roads, track problems HAVE to be fixed whereas, pot-holes can be left in the roads.

Re-nationalise the railways and services will be starved of capital expenditure and services will be run for the benefit of the staff!

Phil says:
16 May 2017

Road haulage also gets a £3 billion hidden subsidy. Heavy vehicles cause 70% of the damage but the cost of repairing this is not covered by the amount of tax they contribute.

Train Managers should monitor the ‘QUIET COACHES’ more strenuously as passengers frequently use their mobile ‘phones despite the notices and announcements to the contrary.

Train Managers should ensure passengers sit in the seats they have booked (when checking their tickets). So often, seats are shown as reserved with no one sitting in them because inconsiderate passengers have chosen to sit in a different seat. This results in ‘walk on’ passengers wandering around a crowded train looking for an ‘unreserved seat’ but afraid to sit in an empty seat marked ‘reserved’ in case the person has gone to the toilet or for a coffee etc.

There are so many inconsiderate passengers who create difficulties for others

Train Manager announcements on the train are often inaudible because they are not speaking clearly into the microphone. And sometimes they speak too quickly or one cannot understand their accent. All very important matters in on-going training etc.

It is also important to keep passengers ‘updated’ if and when the train is held up at signals (or for any other reason – nothing worse than ‘not knowing’ the reason(s).

I don’t know what all the mancing and moaning is about, every time I have needed to use the train it has been:
plenty of available seating

Not saying it’s perfect, but it certainly isn’t broke

Annie says:
16 May 2017

I travel by train rarely because its overpriced, seats are filthy and its a horrible experience if you travel further than 30 miles. East of England is neglected and you have to take 5 trains to get to the Midlands. If I did not have fibro etc I’d gladly drive (Karen). If you live in the south you get direct services. Little in the UK is set up to work properly. Certain areas are favoured, given direct services and other are kicked in the butt and updated technology is reserved for London – direct routes. Politicians are there to cause maximum mayhem and steal our money, receive back handers, fall asleep on the job and get paid for it and give us the illusion of choice.

Linking trains and busses effectively would be helpful. Walking 3/4 mile from station to bus with a suitcase on rough pavements in Newport Gwent would be avoidable with proper planning. several opportunities have been missed to do this!
Information in Newport station about busses is not available, from the staff at the information desk or from leaflets or other means in the foyer.
Why don’t buses run on Sundays?

Lance Pierson says:
16 May 2017

Renationalisation is a hopeless fantasy. Rail investment would then have to compete for Treasury priority with the NHS / social care for an ageing population, defence against increasingly militant terrorists including cyber attacks, and programmes of new school and prison building, not to mention the road and air transport lobbies. What hope then of the money needed for development and expansion? I am really sorry that people are having such bad experience of commuting; but trains are getting longer gradually. My experience of travelling the country by train, mostly out of rush hours, is the best I have known in 70 years.

Peter David Lester says:
16 May 2017

As a daily commuter from the early 70’s I am absolutely appalled at the suggestion to re nationalise the railways. Certainly the current situation, particularly on Southern, is to be deplored and much needs to be done to rectify system shortcomings but do we really want to return to the days of very dirty trains, very late trains, very short trains, missing trains, filthy and badly lit stations, indifferent and unhelpful work to rule staff (the railways being seen as a cosy “job for life”) with much disruption often union inspired . Much can be said about the situation on Southern not least a progressive modern approach to the industry being required throughout the system….. NOT regression !

Estelle Bryers says:
16 May 2017

Nationalise at the end of each lease.

With the Labour party in disarray and Mrs May looking likely to experience a landslide of epic proportions, any talk of re-nationalisation is nonsense. Fat Cats open your purses, Dust off your wheelbarrows, big profit times are here again.

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have just returned from a 2 week holiday in Calabria, Italy, and was SO impressed by the railway system.
SO much cheaper than here, trains always on time ( one delay due to a fire along the track-that was fair enough!) We started at Naples and travelled down to Tropea ( almost at the ‘big toe’ ), then back. Stopping off at rural towns en-route.
The highest cost of any was 38 euros, from Lamezia Terme back up to Naples, a 3.5-4 hr.journey.
ALL tickets get a numbered seat, and all trains have an inspector going through checking everyones tickets.
We could choose faster intercity trains, at much greater cost, but there is a wide range of tariffs and companies to choose from, available on line ,by ticket machine, or via the Clerks in the manned stations, or travel agencies.
This is the first ever holiday where we’ve not needed to hire a car. Such scenic journeys too !
And Naples Metro..only 1 euro per journey, or pay 1.5 euro for up to 90 minutes travel !..so you can visit all the tourist and archeological sites for under a couple of quid equivalent per person.
What a horror awaits tourists TO England…they must be so shocked when they discover the cost of travel here..

Rev Jim Faulkner says:
16 May 2017