Customer satisfaction on trains

By | Category: Travel news
A Nortern Rail train. they came out worst for customer satisfaction in the Which? analysis

A Northern Rail train. they came out worst for customer satisfaction in the Which? analysis

Depending on what news stories you read, the research from Which? says that customer satisfaction is up; it should be up by more or it has hardly changed.

All three statements are true but the spin has either been positive or negative.

According to Which? satisfaction with train service e is up by 7% which amounts to an improvement of less than 1% per year over the last ten years. Many news stories were at pains to point out that fares have risen by over twice the rate of inflation over that decade as though the two were irrevocably linked. They can be if the fare increases are mentioned to passengers in the same breath as asking them about satisfaction but it would be sloppy research that took that approach leading to biased answers.

Rail companies didn’t help their cause by coming out with a statement that just said that satisfaction levels had risen “significantly.” You need numbers to argue with numbers not phrases that can mean  little.

Not surprisingly, commuters had the lowest levels of satisfaction. The more you travel the more you are likely to see  – and remember – any problems. Leisure travellers and holiday makers travel less often and therefore are unlikely to experience as many problems.

Nonetheless, whichever way that Which? looked at the data, satisfaction levels have risen, unless you travel on Northern Rail where levels have declined. Could that have something to do with old, noisy trains that are still in use? Does the data break down levels of satisfaction between those travelling on newer rather than older trains? But good news doesn’t make headlines very often. Editors and journalists like to highlight problems and bad news rather than good, so the spin on this analysis was that Which? said that the increase in satisfaction levels revealed an “unacceptably slow pace of change.” The question to Which? must be what is an acceptable pace? Since that isn’t answered the average traveller is stuck.

Which? hasn’t done itself any favours with its attempt to publicise what is essentially very useful research. But then neither has the train operating companies or the government in the way that they have responded to it.

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