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Transport for Wales finishes bottom of rail operator customer satisfaction survey

18 Sep 2023 4 minute read
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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.

Rolling stock

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.

Response 

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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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

Some alternative to 2nd gear Lee…

Arfon Jones
Arfon Jones
9 months ago

Worst than Trans Pennine Express and Avanti North West? That’s difficult to comprehend.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago
Reply to  Arfon Jones

Trans Pennine…Smile you’re on CCTV…they would not be allowed to carry livestock…

Pyeryx
Pyeryx
9 months ago

My wife regularly uses the rhymney Valley line. It’s a 25 min journey from home to Cardiff Central. With frequent breakdowns and cancellations it can take her over 3 hours to get home. The last time it happened about 3 weeks ago, all trains home were cancelled, the staff bundled everyone out of the station and locked the doors. No staff could tell passengers how to get home. They promised replacement buses that never arrived, they said train tickets were acceptable on the local buses, which wasn’t true. There were over 100 people queueing at the nearest bus stop and… Read more »

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
9 months ago

Hardly surprising. Wales has a third world rail transport system with a bus service to match. The Senedd is failing us

Rob
Rob
9 months ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Not the Senedd, its Labour.

Steve
Steve
9 months ago
Reply to  Rob

It is the Senedd it’s a waste of money and now they are having more

Mr Walrus
Mr Walrus
9 months ago

So the renationalised TfW comes bottom of the pack for customer service! This will be no surprise to those of us who are old enough to remember just how dreadful British Rail was and a wake-up call to all those who think that nationalisation is the cure for all ills.

Dark Mrakeford
Dark Mrakeford
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Walrus

Nationalisation was necessary because the operator couldn’t afford to keep servicing during the pandemic. Services would have ceased completely if they just went bust so your privatisation would have meant another public sector bailout. The English government had to do the same with several operators in England so it’s a problem of lack of internal investment and industry.

We use the same rolling stock, the same signalling services by Network Rail, and the same lines. Until we have our own rail industry that will not change whoever is operating Welsh rail.

Last edited 9 months ago by Dark Mrakeford
Peter
Peter
9 months ago

It comes as no surprise that Transport for Wales comes bottom of the customer satisfaction. In fact it is becoming self evident that anything that The Welsh Government lays it’s hands on is destined for disaster.
The worst thing is that when questioned our Labour Politician’s never take responsibility for anything.
I see no hope for my beloved Wales as the Senedd seems intent on spiralling Wales into oblivion.

Steve
Steve
9 months ago
Reply to  Peter

100% Correct get rid of it

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
9 months ago

It doesn’t surprise me when trains are powered by unreliable diesel combustion engine technology.

Wales need to move on.
Most of Europe’s railways have are electric powered, picking up current from overhead pantograph.

We also need at least 2 new electrified main lines from North to South.
1) Cardiff – Welshpool – Wrexham
2) Carmarthen – Lampeter – Aberystwyth – Bangor.

Currently we have 3 separate rail networks only linked through England.
This will not do for a growing Welsh economy.

Hywel
Hywel
9 months ago

How can we hope to have a decent rail service in Cymru when Westminster steals £6,000,000,000 (YES, REALLY) out of our rail budget to pay for railways in England (alone), that now they can’t even complete?
The Senedd is hamstrung by a bunch of crooks who take our taxes and refuse to give us our rightful share.
If you don’t think independence is the only way forward, you deserve the services they “allow” you.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago
Reply to  Hywel

We are hamstrung by a bunch of crooks and the Senedd and the lack of any talent pool to provide the heavy lifting needed to both win independence and run the country post independence…

First we need to be honest with ourselves then we need a functional anti-nuclear political party to even consider going it alone…

Penybont Boy
9 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

so you and your independent Wales will rely on England to defend you in case of conflict then.

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