Trains still need improvement - survey

PASSENGERS using National Express train services in East Anglia are among the least satisfied in the country according to new figures from the official watchdog.

PASSENGERS using National Express train services in East Anglia are among the least satisfied in the country according to new figures from the official watchdog.

But they are still the best ever recorded by the current rail operator - which is not likely to have its franchise renewed next year.

The Passenger Focus report on satisfaction levels across the country shows that 79% of those using National Express East Anglia trains were overall good or satisfactory.

That compared with a national average of 83% - and some companies recorded a satisfaction rate well above 90%.

Two of the smallest operators, Grand Central and Wrexham & Shropshire recorded satisfaction levels of 95 and 98% respectively.

Passengers in East Anglia had specific issues they were unhappy with.

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Only just over a third (34%) felt National Express offered good value for money and a similar proportion (33%) felt it handled delays well.

Two areas with very low scores were the availability of staff on trains and toilets on trains - which were regarded as satisfactory by only 22 and 29% respectively.

The overall result showed an improvement for the company between autumn 2008 and 2009 by three percent - a result which heartened rail bosses.

Andrew Chivers, Managing Director, National Express East Anglia said: “I am encouraged by the latest National Passenger Survey results which are the best we have achieved since the start of the current franchise.

“These figures reflect the improvements made in our train service performance and the greater emphasis we have placed on improving customer service at our stations with local managers.

“We recognise there is still much more work to do in meeting our customers' expectations and we are pressing ahead with our exciting Service Improvement Plan which is already bringing benefits to thousands of customers.”

Guy Dangerfield from Passenger Focus said that punctuality and reliability were the crucial factors: “There have been improvements in East Anglia which have been reflected in these figures.

“But that has been patchy - with major improvements on the west of the region on the line to Cambridge but not such a happy story on the Great Eastern main line to Ipswich and Norwich.”