National Rail Passenger Survey results show improvements in passenger satisfaction in the North – but challenges still remain
Since the new train franchises came into operation just over a year ago, rail passengers have responded positively to franchise improvement work as evidenced by the improvement in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NPRS) results, released at the end of last month (July 2017).
The new franchises began in April 2016 and marked the start of greater rail investment across the region and greater local control. Since then, both Northern and TransPennine Express have seen a significant uplift in customer satisfaction with staff helpfulness and information significantly cited as improving across both franchises.
Both franchises have exceeded their franchise agreement targets and continue to consistently improve on station, train and overall customer satisfaction – but the latest surveys have identified less satisfaction with station parking for both franchise operators and in a Transport Focus survey published at the same time passengers prioritised ‘better value for money’ on ticket prices and ‘being able to get a seat’ as top of their wish lists.
Northern’s top scoring areas of customer satisfaction include how station staff handled requests (at 92%) provision of information about times and platforms (at 89% satisfaction) and overall station satisfaction (at 88%).
TPE scored highest on how requests were handled by station staff (at 95% satisfaction), provision of information (at 91% satisfaction) and journey time length (at 90%), with a significant increases in satisfaction on thirteen factors, and no significant decreases in customer satisfaction.
David Hoggarth, Director of Rail North Limited, said: “The franchise operators have worked incredibly hard to deliver a range of customer improvements in their first year operation. The work is paying off and is clearly evidenced in the consistent improvement in customer satisfaction across a number of key areas. However, there are clearly still challenges they are working to address and the continued roll-out of franchise improvements, including greater seating capacity and more frequent services, will help tackle areas where there is a need for improvement.”
“We are also clear that continued investment in rail in the north is needed. Working alongside industry partners, including Transport for the North and Network Rail, we are ensuring collaboration on future planning and investment for the North, supporting projects including the Great North Rail Project, TransPennine Route upgrade and Northern Powerhouse Rail and SMART ticketing,” said David.
Rail passengers in the North are now seeing the first new and refurbished rolling stock on both Northern and TransPennine Express services providing customers with an improved passenger experience. All Northern Pacer trains are due to be replaced of by the end of 2019 and passengers will also benefit from improved station facilities, increased access to free wifi, improved catering on TransPennine trains, and greater connectivity, with additional Sunday and evening services on some routes.
The full National Rail Passenger Survey (NPRS) results can be found at: Transport Focus