Transport for Wales finishes bottom of rail operator customer satisfaction survey
Transport for Wales (TfW) is the worst ranked rail operator for overall customer satisfaction in Britain, according to a new survey.
The latest Rail User Survey conducted by Transport Focus, the independent watchdog for transport users, shows overall satisfaction with TfW services has fallen to 72 per cent, the lowest level recorded across the 15 rail operators included in the survey.
The survey asks passengers in Wales, England and Scotland about their experience of rail travel and their level of satisfaction with their most recent journey.
In the last year the satisfaction level recorded by TfW passengers has declined by 10 points.
Punctuality, reliability, and service frequency are among the key areas where passengers are unhappy and TfW is ranked in 15th place across all three categories.
The biggest drop recorded was satisfaction with the punctuality and reliability of services. In the last eight months this has fallen by 20 points from 79 to 59.
Since last year satisfaction with the frequency of services has also dipped, from 68 to 54.
Customer satisfaction has increased by nine points, from 58 to 67 with overcrowding,
Cleanliness, information during the journey and value for money have also increased slightly.
TfW has suffered issues with its fleet of trains and new rolling stock which has been due to go into service has been delayed.
Engineering work on the Valleys Lines out of Cardiff, in preparation for the South Wales Metro will also have played a part in disrupting services.
In May this year Transport Focus called on TfW to take urgent action to deliver a more reliable rail service to passengers.
The Watchdog also wrote to the company’s chief executive Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde urging him to ensure services are improved and requested the production of an action plan with timescales for restoring service performance and reliability.
In his letter, Transport Focus Director David Sidebottom said the organisation recognised the challenges facing TfW but expressed frustration that promises made by the rail operator last November and in March had still failed to produce improvements.
In March most of TfW’s fleet of Class 175 trains was taken out of service after a series of underbody fires, one of which, on a Holyhead to Cardiff service in February, saw passengers evacuated and a road closed. There are 27 Class 175 trains in the Transport for Wales fleet.
Jan Chaudhry-Van der Velde, Chief Operating Officer at TfW, said: “After years of stagnation, there is a huge railway transformation program being delivered on this network and while we make these investments, parts of the railway have been like building sites throughout 2023.
“As we modernise and enhance infrastructure and rolling stock, it’s undoubtedly been a painful period for our passengers with many rail replacement bus services in operation.
“Our new trains have been delayed by the pandemic so our older trains have had to carry on longer than intended, but the good news is the new trains are now arriving and will continue to replace the old ones throughout the rest of this year and into 2024.
“We’ve invested more than £1m in station improvements and improved customer information systems. This includes launching an online map showing exactly where your train is at any given time, new customer information screens at our stations and mobile customer information points as well.
“We’re making rail travel more affordable with promotions, including 50% off Advance tickets and Multiflex, 12 journeys for the price of six, as well as free travel for children under 11 when traveling with an adult to make public transport more accessible for families.
“I would like to apologise to passengers using the Welsh and Border Services for all the disruption over the last few months. I promise the upgrade work will be worth it. With new trains, enhanced timetables, modernised infrastructure and more capacity on the network.”
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