A survey of rail passenger satisfaction levels has revealed the East Coast Main Line is one of the best performing in the country.
It came 5th with a 59% rate in a table of 19 companies which were scored by independent consumer group Which?
The East Coast Main Line has been publicly run since 2009. It is due to return to private hands in 2015.
Overall, passenger satisfaction levels have dipped below 50% for the majority of the privatised train companies.
For two of them – Greater Anglia and Southeastern – the satisfaction score was only 40%.
Ten of the 19 companies had satisfaction scores of less than 50%, with Merseyrail (70%) the best-performing company.
Other findings of the survey, conducted among 7,415 UK adults in November 2013, revealed.
16% of all passengers experienced a delay on their last journey, with this figure rising to 26% for commuters;
21% of commuters said they were likely to have stood on their last journey:
11% said they had cause to complain about the last journey they had taken, but 75% did not officially complain. Of those who did complain, more than half (55%) were dissatisfied with how it was handled.
The scores were based on satisfaction with a company and the likelihood of costumers recommending the company. On average, those surveyed had travelled by train 32 times in the previous 12 months.
Which? also asked what passengers felt would improve their journeys and what they would be prepared to pay more for.
Lower ticket prices were top of the wanted list (60%), with 80% saying fares were too high. People also wanted to see more carriages at peak times (35%), promotions on ticket prices (29%), wi-fi as standard (20%) and improved punctuality and reliability (18% – rising to 29% for commuters only.)
A total of 12% said they want cleaner trains.
More than half (53%) said they would not mind paying more if they saw an improvement in service in return. Half (49%) would pay more for a more reliable service, and a similar number (48%) would pay more to guarantee a seat. A total of 42% would pay more if the money went towards new trains.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “It’s disappointing to see some train companies consistently falling down on the basics of customer service, with dirty and overcrowded carriages and toilets that don’t work.
“Seven rail franchises end in the next two years and we want to see passengers’ experiences put right at the heart of the tender process so companies respond to consumer expectations and can be held to account if they don’t.”
A spokesman for the rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group said: “As we acknowledged last month when the independent watchdog’s far more comprehensive survey found that more than four out of five passengers were satisfied with their overall journey, the industry needs to build on the improvements it has delivered over the last 15 years.
“We are always keen to get feedback from customers, whether good or bad, which has helped the industry attract record numbers of passengers and cut complaints by three quarters in a decade.”
These were the overall satisfaction scores by company in percentage terms:
1. Merseyrail 70%
2. Chiltern 69%
3. c2c 67%
4. Virgin Trains 64%
5. East Coast 59%
6. London Overground 58%
7. ScotRail 56%
8. CrossCountry 52%
9. East Midlands Trains 50%
10. First TransPennine Express 48%
10. Arriva Trains Wales 48%
12. London Midland 47%
13. Southern 46%
13. Northern 46%
15. First Great Western 45%
15. South West Trains 45%
17. First Capital Connect 41%
18. Greater Anglia 40%
18. Southeastern 40%