23rd Jun 2017
Rail passenger complaints have risen by 7.5% over the past year, according to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). With a total of 540,000 complaints made, the ORR noted that issues around delays and cancellations were largely what drove the increase.
During the past year, train delays have been the worst since 2005-06, with 12.3% of trains failing to reach their destination within five minutes of the scheduled arrival time for commuter services, or within 10 minutes for long-distance journeys.
In 2016-17, five operators in London and the South East (Greater Anglia, c2c, Govia Thameslink Railway, Southeastern and South West Trains) were responsible for 46% of all complaints. The previous year, they were responsible for just 32%.
But poor punctuality is not the only factor – it seems that customer service has also played a part in the increased number of complaints.
Jo Causon, chief executive of The Institute of Customer Service, said: “A major factor in rail customer satisfaction is service reliability, but our research identifies staff attitude and behaviour as essential drivers too.
“Customers are more concerned today about staff attitudes and behaviour than they were even five years ago, and developing these skills is an essential part of improving customer service.”
According to the Institute’s January 2017 UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) for the transport sector, the sector as a whole is among the lowest-scoring in terms of customer care and reputation.
With 37.3% of Southern Railway customers and 20.2% of South West Trains customers experiencing a problem in the previous three months, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. But there is good news. London Midland, Great Western Railway, South West Trains and East Midlands Trains are among the 20 most improved organisations in the overall UKCSI, compared to January 2016.