ScotRail passenger satisfaction soars back to 89%

Passenger satisfaction with Scotland's main train operator today bounced back to near its record level.

Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 12:12 pm

The firm's rating soared from 79 to 89 per cent in the latest survey by passenger watchdog Transport Focus.

The ten-point increase last autumn compared to the same period in 2018, when satisfaction plunged to ScotRail's lowest for 16 years.

It also comes as the fourth boast for the beleaguered operator within weeks after punctuality improved, the complaints rate fell and fines for service failings reduced.

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The rating is one point below ScotRail's previous 90 per cent record. Picture: John Devlin

The score will come as a major relief to ScotRail, which was ordered to introduce one of two remedial plans after it fell below the required 88.5 per cent.

The result is one percentage point lower than Abellio-run ScotRail's 90 per cent record score and the best autumn performance for five years.

Areas which saw the biggest increase in satisfaction were power socket availability, information about delays, wifi reliability, train cleanliness and upkeep and seat comfort.

Late delivery of ScotRail's refurbished veteran "High Speed Trains" has previously added to overcrowding

No areas saw a significant decline in satisfaction, although those marked lowest were car parking (44 per cent happy) and how ScotRail dealt with delays and station shops (44 per cent).

The operator's score was as good or better than the four other daytime train operators in Scotland.

Its ten-year franchise will end two years early in 2022 after Abellio and Scottish ministers failed to agree how much it would cost to run the contract to 2025, which requires some £200 million of public subsidy a year.

Performance 'stabilised'

ScotRail's satisfaction improvement is one of the best of any British operator.

East coast firm LNER's rating was up 2 points to 89 per cent, with west coast operator Virgin Trains - which was replaced by Avanti in December - down 5 points to 85 per cent.

CrossCountry was down 1 point to 80 per cent while TransPennine Express was up by 6 points to 79 per cent.

Caledonian Sleeper was not included in the poll.

A total of 1,200 ScotRail passengers were surveyed in the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS).

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Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Passengers in Scotland have felt the benefit of investment and stabilised performance.

"Satisfaction with punctuality has increased, and this is crucial - the most important thing for passengers is a service they can rely on.

“ScotRail’s focus on delivering its performance remedial plan has resulted in the best autumn punctuality figures in five years.

"Delivery of the NRPS remedial plan, and investment in new trains and timetable enhancements, has seen satisfaction in most train factors rise.

'Hard work paying off'

"Overall satisfaction with the train rose to 84 per cent compared to autumn 2018 (75 per cent) together with the helpfulness and attitude of staff on the train, up to 80 per cent."

ScotRail head of customer operations Phil Campbell said: "I am delighted to see such a significant increase in customer satisfaction, which shows that the hard work of our people is paying off.

“Abellio’s £475 million investment in new and upgraded trains, and the further investment across the business to improve the service we deliver, is helping to build the best railway Scotland has ever had.”

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “We welcome these figures which are the best results for overall passenger satisfaction since spring 2014.

"This is clear evidence the remedial action plans implemented by ScotRail, after we demanded improvements, are delivering positive results.

“The overall satisfaction score of 89 per cent is particularly encouraging as it puts ScotRail well above the UK average of 82 per cent and comes alongside a continuing upward trend in overall performance.

“Ministers and passengers alike expect this trend to continue as it is important ScotRail not only meets customer expectations but strives to exceed them.”

LNER managing director David Horne said: “LNER is committed to providing the very bestcustomer experience for everyone who travels with us.

"We continue to build on the work we’ve already done to deliver even more value for money; making travel simpler, smarter and keeping the customer at the heart of all we do.”