Southern rock bottom in Which? customer satisfaction survey

The Government has faced calls to strip GTR of Southern services
The Government has faced calls to strip GTR of Southern services

Southern rail services have finished rock bottom in a customer satisfaction survey conducted by consumer champion Which?

It asked passengers to rate reported punctuality, reliability, seat availability, standing space, frequency, carriages, toilets and value for money.

Southern finished with an overall score of 21 per cent, down from 44 per cent last year, scoring one star out of five in every category apart from toilets and carriges where it scored two out of five.

Second bottom was Southeastern with a score of 31 per cent, followed by Thameslink and Great Northern, at 32 per cent.

Vickie Sheriff, director of campaigns and communications at Which?, said: “After months of disruption, it’s no surprise to see Southern at the bottom of our customer satisfaction survey.

“Though Southern have performed particularly badly this year, the whole sector is continually failing passengers.

“Overcrowding, delays, short trains, carriages in poor condition – many services aren’t providing even the basics. Enough is enough – we need rail services that finally deliver for their passengers.”

With passengers enduring a winter of misery on the railways, Which? is today launching a campaign calling for rail services to finally deliver for passengers. Which? wants:

- Train companies to respect passenger rights and comply with the law.

- The regulator to be given real teeth to hold the rail industry to account .

- The Government to swiftly bring forward reforms that put passengers first.

It is asking passengers who have experienced delays, overcrowding, poor train conditions, short formation trains or general poor service, to share nightmare experiences with Which? by visiting www.which.co.uk/mytrainhell

Passengers using Southern services have faced almost daily misery for most of 2016 due to a combination of staff shortages, Network Rail track issues and upgrades, industrial action, mismanagement, and operational incidents.

For much of that time rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Southern trains, has been locked in a bitter dispute with the RMT union over plans to change the role of conductors to on-board supervisors.

This would mean that train doors would be operated by drivers, with both the RMT and train drivers’ union ASLEF raising concerns about the potential loss of a second safety-critical member of staff on Southern services.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: “The responsibility for the catastrophic mismanagement of this crucial rail operation lies fairly and squarely with the Government and their contractors GTR.

“This scandal cannot be allowed to continue. GTR and their French-backers, who routinely put private profits before passenger services and safety, must be stripped of this franchise with the public sector given a chance to sort this mess out once and for all.”

Last week a spokesman for Southern said: “These strikes are not about safety; it’s purely about the unions trying to turn the clock back, hang on to outmoded working practices, which technology now eradicates, and union power.

“We need to modernise our trains and the services passengers want. Every train that previously had a conductor before 1 January now has either a conductor or a safety-competent on-board supervisor rostered to work. We need to end these strikes and end them now.”

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