Rail op­er­a­tors among worst

Yorkshire Post - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID BEHRENS COUNTY COR­RE­SPON­DENT ■ Email: david.behrens@ypn.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @york­shire­post

TRANS­PORT: Two York­shire train op­er­a­tors have been ranked among the na­tion’s worst per­form­ers in a sur­vey which found only one in three com­muters think the in­dus­try de­liv­ers value for money.

The weak per­for­mance of ser­vices was chiefly to blame for the poor show­ing, the watch­dog Trans­port Fo­cus said.

TWO YORK­SHIRE train op­er­a­tors have been ranked among the na­tion’s worst per­form­ers in an of­fi­cial sur­vey which found that only one in three com­muters be­lieved the in­dus­try de­liv­ered value for money.

The con­tin­u­ing weak per­for­mance of ser­vices was chiefly to blame for the poor show­ing, the watch­dog Trans­port Fo­cus said. It added that just three in ten trav­ellers were sat­is­fied with the way train com­pa­nies dealt with de­lays.

Its an­nual re­port, the big­gest sur­vey of the rail­way in­dus­try, was com­piled even be­fore the 3.4 per cent av­er­age rise in fares ear­lier this month dealt trav­ellers a fur­ther blow.

It found that ser­vices on North­ern Rail and Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press were in most cases no bet­ter or worse than last year, with punc­tu­al­ity, clean­li­ness and help­ful­ness of staff on Tran­sPen­nine ser­vices sin­gled out for par­tic­u­lar crit­i­cism.

But three other re­gional op­er­a­tors, in­clud­ing the soon-to-bere­placed Vir­gin East Coast, were praised.

The con­sumer group Which? said the fig­ures came as “no sur­prise”.

Alex Hay­man, the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s man­ag­ing director of pub­lic mar­kets, said “Our re­search has shown that 7m jour­neys were sig­nif­i­cantly de­layed last year and sat­is­fac­tion with de­lay han­dling has been per­sis­tently low for over a decade. Pas­sen­gers are also find­ing it too dif­fi­cult to claim com­pen­sa­tion when things go wrong.”

The worst-per­form­ing com­pa­nies were the strike-hit South­ern and South Western Rail­ways, with North­ern and Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press ranked jointly eighth from bot­tom.

Sat­is­fac­tion over punc­tu­al­ity on North­ern was said to have fallen by six per cent since last spring, and over­all sat­is­fac­tion by four per cent. Sat­is­fac­tion with Tran­sPen­nine trains was eight per cent down on last spring, and six per cent fewer peo­ple were con­tent with the at­ti­tude of the com­pany’s staff.

An­thony Smith, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Trans­port Fo­cus, said: “For pas­sen­gers it’s all about per­for­mance. These value-for-money scores re­flect patchy re­li­a­bil­ity.”

He said Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press had been “buf­feted by poorer per­for­mance”, and added: “Train com­pa­nies and Net­work Rail need to keep to their ba­sic prom­ises and de­liver a re­lent­less fo­cus on day-to-day per­for­mance and bet­ter in­for­ma­tion dur­ing dis­rup­tion.”

Grand Cen­tral, which runs trains from York­shire and the North-East to Lon­don, was the best-per­form­ing op­er­a­tor, with a sat­is­fac­tion rating of 96 per cent, fol­lowed by Hull Trains, one point be­hind.

Vir­gin East Coast, which in Novem­ber was al­lowed by the Gov­ern­ment to with­draw from its £3.3bn fran­chise three years early, was the third-best per­former.

Jacqueline Starr, man­ag­ing director of “cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence” at the Rail Delivery Group, which rep­re­sents the train com­pa­nies and Net­work Rail, said: “Four out of five jour­neys were rated sat­is­fac­tory or good by our cus­tomers but we know there is much more to do, which is why rail com­pa­nies are work­ing to­gether with a long-term plan to change and im­prove.”

Bri­tain’s trains are the old­est since cur­rent records be­gan, de­spite record fare in­creases in re­cent years. Pas­sen­gers are typ­i­cally trav­el­ling in car­riages built in the mid-1990s, ac­cord­ing to Of­fice of Rail and Road statis­tics. Ear­lier this week, the in­dus­try an­nounced that a fur­ther 1,300 new car­riages would be de­liv­ered “by the early 2020s”, bring­ing the to­tal to just over 7,000.

These val­ue­for-money scores re­flect patchy re­li­a­bil­ity. An­thony Smith, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Trans­port Fo­cus.

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