Only a third of commuters who travel by train feel like they are getting value for money when they buy their tickets. That is according to a new survey carried out by passenger watchdog Transport Focus.
The study garnered the opinion of 27,000 rail passengers, who were asked about various elements of their experience. Just 33 per cent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the value for money represented by their fares, with many stating the “patchy reliability” of services as a problem.
Rail fares went up again in January by an average 3.4 per cent, although commuters were hit even harder with a 3.6 per cent increase on season tickets. Those who travel regularly with South Western Railway were among the most dissatisfied in the wake of a largely disrupted summer in 2017.
The operator did not manage to take the crown for the most dissatisfied passengers, however, as that title has remained with Southern. When asked, 28 per cent of its commuters said they were not happy with the last journey they took.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, told The Guardian: “The thing of paramount importance to passengers everywhere, of all ages and types, across the country, is that their service is reliable. Investing is great, and there’s a feel-good uplift, but only so long as the performance is there – if you’re stuck on a new train, it’s still late.”
If this sounds like a familiar story to you, perhaps it’s time to turn away from the train and look at a different type of commuting. Getting to work by coach is cheaper than using the train and you’re guaranteed a seat, representing much better value for money.
Mr Smith went on to say that lower-paid and part-time workers were at a particular disadvantage, due to the way in which many train companies manage their ticketing. He said that requiring season tickets to be bought in one lump sum was discriminatory against this demographic, effectively locking them out of bulk buy discounts.
The study also revealed that London and the south-east has the most unhappy train passengers, with the region’s rail operators being the worst perceived. They were seen as worse value for money than those in other areas or companies offering long-distance services.
Another of the complaints voiced by rail travellers was the unreliability of Wi-Fi. Just one in three of those surveyed said they were happy with the availability and performance of Wi-Fi on board trains. Such connectivity issues can greatly decrease the amount of work a commuter can get done while travelling each day.
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