Mixed re­views for Kent rail op­er­a­tors in pas­sen­ger sur­vey

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - By Paul Fran­cis

Kent rail pas­sen­gers have sig­nalled that South­east­ern ser­vices are get­ting bet­ter.

But there is less good news for the strike-hit op­er­a­tor South­ern.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est sur­vey car­ried out by the pas­sen­ger watch­dog Trans­port Fo­cus, sat­is­fac­tion ratings for South­ern were the worst of all op­er­a­tors.

Ser­vices run by the com­pany have been blighted by a long-run­ning dis­pute over the in­tro­duc­tion of driver-only trains and the frus­tra­tion felt by rail users over strikes and de­lays has re­sulted in an over­all sat­is­fac­tion rat­ing of 72%.

While South­ern – which runs ser­vices in Ashford to Brighton and oth­ers in west Kent – emerged as the worst in the coun­try there was bet­ter news for South­east­ern.

The op­er­a­tor saw its over­all sat­is­fac­tion rat­ing at 81%: that rep­re­sents a 10% in­crease since a sim­i­lar sur­vey in spring 2016.

How­ever, the cost of travel on South­east­ern ser­vices re­mains an is­sue. While 38% of those sur­veyed said they were sat­is­fied – up 6% – 40% said they were dis­sat­is­fied with ticket prices.

On punc­tu­al­ity, South­east­ern saw its rat­ing rise by 14% to 72% while South­ern saw a 5% im­prove­ment, but to just 57%.

On over-crowded trains, 69% of users of South­east­ern ser­vices said they were sat­is­fied with the ca­pac­ity of trains: for South­ern, the fig­ure was 67%.

On deal­ing with de­lays, South­east­ern’s rat­ing was un­changed with 36% say­ing they were sat­is­fied com­pared to 28% for South­ern.

Trans­port Fo­cus said pas­sen­gers in Lon­don and the South East were over­all more sat­is­fied with their rail­way jour­neys af­ter a long pe­riod of patchy per­for­mance.

For Lon­don and South East op­er­a­tors, 82 per cent of pas­sen­gers were very or fairly sat­is­fied over­all, com­pared to 79% in spring 2016.

David Statham, manag­ing direc­tor for South­east­ern, said: “We’re re­ally pleased that pas­sen­ger sat­is­fac­tion has sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved and 8 in 10 of our pas­sen­gers are sat­is­fied with our ser­vice.

“This a di­rect re­sult of the hard work and com­mit­ment of our em­ploy­ees who take care of our pas­sen­gers’ needs day in and day out.

“We have in­vested more in cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing, and kept a de­ter­mined fo­cus on trains ar­riv­ing at the right time.”

He said join­ing Net­work Rail had helped min­imise de­lays and im­prove per­for­mance.

A spokesman for South­ern said: “Though the im­prove­ment in our pas­sen­ger’s sat­is­fac­tion is mod­est, we are pleased to see it mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion.”

“We are cur­rently in the midst of a far-reach­ing mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme.

“We know this has been a dif­fi­cult pe­riod for our pas­sen­gers and for our staff but per­for­mance is now im­prov­ing, and punc­tu­al­ity had im­proved for six months in a row dur­ing the pe­riod th­ese re­sults re­flect.”

An­drew Smith, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Trans­port Fo­cus, said: “Th­ese green shoots are frag­ile and need nur­tur­ing.

“This re­cov­ery will be un­der pres­sure from up­grade works, in­dus­trial re­la­tion­ship prob­lems and ris­ing pas­sen­ger num­bers.

“The in­dus­try needs to keep a re­lent­less, on­go­ing fo­cus on per­for­mance and re­li­a­bil­ity.”

Pic­ture: Barry Good­win

David Statham, manag­ing direc­tor for South­east­ern, was pleased pas­sen­ger sat­is­fac­tion has sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved dur­ing the past year

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