East Anglia: Commuters’ shock at rail survey outcome
- Credit: Archant © 2012
A RAIL users’ group says it is “very surprised” after Greater Anglia was named the most improved train service in the country.
Official rail watchdog Passenger Focus published its National Passenger Survey (NPS) yesterday, which revealed 83% of travellers rated the East Anglia service as either good or satisfactory in the final months of 2012.
In contrast, the region’s rail travellers had the lowest satisfaction levels in the country in March 2012 when just 73% said the service was either good or satisfactory. The 10% hike in approval ratings was the biggest increase in England.
But angry commuters, who have suffered a string of delays and cancellations this month, have hit back – branding the survey an inaccurate reflection of reality and failing to “paint the gloomy picture it should”.
And it wasn’t all good news in the survey for Greater Anglia. It also showed only 37% of travellers felt they got value for money – the joint-worst in the country – with 42% rating it poor or unsatisfactory.
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Greater Anglia still ranks as the joint fourth-worst train operator out of the 23 companies compiled in terms of overall satisfaction.
Neil Skinner, chairman of the Manningtree Rail Users’ Association, said: “I am very surprised by the findings. The level of dissatisfaction we are hearing is definitely on the up.
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“People are hacked off having to pay extra for a worse service. The conditions of the trains, for example, are getting tackier by the day. People want value for money for trains that turn up on time.
“In Greater Anglia’s defence a lot of the problems are beyond their control. The infrastructure has been in decline for decades and signal problems are not their fault.
“But I would like to see who they asked in the survey – people on day trips or early-morning commuters? They would cast a far more critical eye on the service.”
Only 4% of the 2,120 passengers surveyed between the start of September and the middle of November in 2012 described their overall satisfaction as poor or unsatisfactory.
When Dutch train firm Abellio took over the Greater Anglia train franchise from National Express East Anglia in February 2012, it said its first priority was to improve customer service.
Ruud Haket, managing director of Greater Anglia, said: “These are very encouraging results. I am pleased that the efforts the team has made to invest in and improve customer service, combined with the closer working alliance with Network Rail, is already delivering better customer service and performance.
“We recognise there is more to do and our focus is to build on these improved levels of satisfaction and to continue to invest in improving the service we offer our passengers.”
A Greater Anglia spokesperson added: “Performance has not deteriorated since the Olympics and the figures published for the period ended 5 January 2013 saw a new high for the moving annual average punctuality for Greater Anglia of 92.2% – the best since the current structure for the East Anglia franchise was established in 2004.
“The past couple of weeks has seen a number of performance issues that have affected some of our services, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience that may have caused customers.
“We are continuing to work closely with Network Rail to deliver consistent and improving levels of punctuality to build on the progress made over the past year.”