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Half Of Train Firms Lagging In Passenger Poll

(c) Sky News 2013

More than half of train companies have a customer satisfaction score of 50% or lower, according to a Which? survey.

Overall, only 22% of train travellers feel their service is improving despite above-inflation fare rises in January.

Bottom in the 19-company satisfaction table was First Capital Connect, with only 40% of its passengers happy with its service.

The next least-content passengers were those travelling on Greater Anglia trains, with the company only scoring 42%.

Other operators where satisfaction levels were low included Southeastern (43% satisfied), First Great Western (43%), Northern (44%) and London Midland (45%).

Also below 50% were South West Trains (47%) Southern (48%) and Arriva Trains Wales (48%). The East Midlands Trains' figure was 50%, leaving 10 companies at 50% or worse and nine at better than 50%.

Top of the satisfaction table, compiled from responses from 7,500 regular train users, was West Coast main line operator Virgin Trains, with a score of 67%.

London Overground was second with 65%, while the London to Tilbury and Southend company c2c and Merseyrail both scored 64%.

On London Overground, where new trains have been introduced in recent months, 60% of users said they felt the service had improved in the past two years.

But Which? said at the other end of the scale, a quarter of passengers reckoned they were now getting a worse service on London Midland where staff shortages have caused problems in recent months.

Which? said: "One First Capital Connect customer told us: 'The price has increased and the trains get more and more crowded. I never see any improvements for the extra money I am paying'.

"And a Southeastern passenger said: 'The prices are terrible, the service is bad and trains are often delayed, cancelled and dirty.'"

The survey also showed that 40% of train travellers are likely to reduce the number of journeys they make as a result of the recent price increases which have season tickets rise by an average of 4.2%.

But a third of commuters said they did not have an alternative way of getting to work and would just have to pay more.

Responding to the Which? survey, a spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: "The independent watchdog Passenger Focus surveys up to eight times as many people a year and last month reported 85% of passengers are satisfied with their service - a record high."

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: "It is about time these basket-case private train companies like First Capital Connect were booted off Britain's railways for good and their franchises returned to public ownership.

"This current tolerance of these private rail spivs by the Government is reward for total and abject failure on an epic scale."