Northern bottom in rail travel survey

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The Northern train company has been rated worst regional rail service in a customer satisfaction survey that saw one passenger describe Northern trains as “cattle carts”.

The operator, which runs trains throughout Yorkshire, received its lowest scores in the Which? magazine poll for state of repair and cleanliness and frequency.

But Northern’s passengers did praise staff, improved reliability and punctuality and it scored well for value for money, Which? said.

Figures from the Office of Rail Regulation show train travellers moan more about punctuality than fare levels.

Train performance accounted for 38 per cent of passenger complaints made to train companies in the last three months of 2011. Fares made up only 15 per cent of complaints.

The Which? survey, which gathered customer satisfaction ratings for 18 train companies, put Northern at the bottom of the regional service table and in the bottom half of the national table, along with TransPennine Express – another Yorkshire provider.

Northern came in with 49 points out of 100 in the national scorings, while TransPennine Express clocked up 54 points.

The magazine revealed that some of the 4,092 passengers surveyed experience “overcrowded trains, erratic punctuality and poor value for money”. In 37 per cent of the 5,542 journeys respondents told the magazine about, all seats were taken in their carriage.

But other customers were more satisfied with their rail journeys, showing that “some train companies are getting it right”, the magazine said.

Virgin Trains, which operates the West Coast line, was considered the best train company nationally, with a customer satisfaction score of 64.

A Northern Rail spokesman said: “The sample size in this particular survey represents a minute proportion of our total customer base making it difficult to draw firm conclusions, however we will take these comments on board.”

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