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Open access comes out on top in National Rail survey

OPEN-ACCESS operators have again proved to be the most popular with their passengers. The National Rail Passenger Survey from Transport Focus for Spring this year found that 95 per cent (19 out of 20 passengers) on Grand Central were satisfied with their journeys, while Heathrow Express (operated by GWR) and Hull Trains were not far behind, on 94 and 92 per cent.

Operators achieving improvements in ‘overall satisfaction’ were Great Northern (up 9 per cent), Grand Central (up 6 per cent) and ScotRail (up 5 per cent), while high scores for overall satisfaction were achieved by the DfT’s London North Eastern Railway (91 per cent), Merseyrail and ScotRail (both 90 per cent), and TfL Rail and Gatwick Express (both 89 per cent).

Others registered declines in satisfaction. They were Avanti West Coast (down 7 per cent from Virgin’s final score last autumn), Transpennine Express and West Midlands Trains (both down 5 per cent) and South Western Railway (down 4 per cent). South Western Railway was also the operator with the fewest satisfied passengers, at 75 per cent.

TransPennine Express came out worst in the ‘disatisfied or poor’ category, at 13 per cent. Other operators with ‘disatisfied or poor’ totals in double figures were Greater Anglia, the DfT’s Northern, South Western Railway and West Midlands Trains (all 11 per cent) and Transport for Wales (10 per cent).

However, the introduction of lockdown in the second half of March hampered the researchers’ work in its final weeks.

Transport Focus warned: ‘The sudden early finish to fieldwork meant that, apart from on one train company, target sample sizes were not achieved. On some train companies; Great Northern, East Midlands Railway, London North Eastern Railway, c2c, Chiltern Railways, Transport for Wales and TransPennine Express, greater than usual care should be taken when interpreting the results. While for Merseyrail considerable caution should be used when interpreting their results.’

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