Still derailed: No let up for rail industry as customer satisfaction with transport sector hits rock bottom

5th Jul 2018

The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), published today by The Institute of Customer Service, reveals that customer service in the transport sector is rated lower by consumers than any other UK sector. The sector has not only failed to improve after a significant fall in January’s UKCSI, but has fallen by another two points, making it the lowest performing sector for the second time in a row. The gap between the sector’s customer satisfaction score and the UK all-sector average is now at its widest since records began (5.4 points).

Rail, air and sea travel have all experienced a year-on-year fall in customer satisfaction according to the latest report, but the sharpest drop comes for the rail industry, which falls 2.4 points. At a time of intensified pressure on rail providers following widespread disruption resulting from timetable changes, the decline in satisfaction is influenced primarily by an uplift in the proportion of people experiencing a problem with their rail travel, which rose to almost a quarter (22.4%) of all rail customers. Customers also reported poor online interactions when trying to report a travel problem or engage with their train operator. 

With a UKCSI score of 82.5, Jet2 is the highest scoring organisation in the transport sector. By contrast, 14 transport organisations (out of 32 in total) score below the sector average of 72.5, with Southern Railway receiving the lowest score in the sector, 56.3. The national average score of customer satisfaction across all sectors in the UK is 77.9. 

The Institute of Customer Service is calling on government and regulators to look at ways of incentivising higher standards of customer service across the lifetime of rail franchises. Customers identified better reliability and punctuality as top priorities for improvement and also reported that, significantly more so than in any other sector, there was a need for more friendly and helpful staff. 

Jo Causon, Chief Executive of The Institute of Customer Service, commented: “As levels of customer satisfaction with the industry continue to decline at a rapid rate, regaining the trust of dissatisfied customers must be central to the boardroom strategy - and the customer voice needs to be at the heart of these conversations if the sector is to stand a chance of turning things around. I urge Government and regulators to look at ways of incentivising higher standards of customer service across the lifetime of rail franchises.’’

In comparison to the rail providers’ performance, airline customer service is consistently performing relatively highly with an average score of 75.6. Along with Jet2, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic have scored at least one point higher than the sector average in every UKCSI since July 2015 and Flybe improved its UKCSI score by more than two points between July 2017 and July 2018. 

Other solid performers include Eurotunnel, National Express, P&O Ferries, and Virgin Trains, which have each received a UKCSI score at least one point higher than the sector average in the last seven UKCSI reports. 

The UKCSI is the national measure of UK customer satisfaction. It rates customer satisfaction at a national, sector and organisational level across 13 sectors – incorporating the views of 10,000 consumers. More than 30 different considerations – such as staff professionalism, quality and efficiency, and complaint handling – are factored into the results. It is published twice a year, in January and July. To find out more, and to download the full UKCSI report, visit: 


Notes to editors

For further information please contact:

Sophie Lanning, Rebecca Peck and Bethan Davies

E: [email protected]  

T: 0207 010 826 (Sophie), 020 7010 0877 (Rebecca) or 0207 010 851 (Bethan)

About The Institute of Customer Service 

The Institute of Customer Service is the professional body for customer service delivering tangible benefit to organisations and individuals so that our customers can improve their customers’ experience and their own business performance. The Institute is a membership body with a community of over 500 organisational members - from the private, public and third sectors – and over 3,000 individual memberships. For more information about The Institute of Customer Service go to   


UKCSI (UK Customer Satisfaction Index) is The Institute of Customer Service’s national measure of customer satisfaction. It provides insights into the state and direction of customer satisfaction at a national level, across 13 key sectors and for individual organisations. UKCSI was launched by The Institute of Customer Service in 2008. It provides a unique way of measuring the current customer satisfaction of UK customers, as well as trends over time. The July 2017 UKCSI results included in this report are based on 43,500 survey responses. Each response is a completed online questionnaire relating to the customer experience with a specific organisation. These responses are provided by over 10,000 individual customers. The respondents are representative of the UK adult population, according to region, age and gender. 

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