Reputation Survey: Rail Services

As rail travellers returned after Christmas to inflation-busting fare hikes, latest research reveals that the vast majority of the public reject the need for the increases.

OnePoll: the public's view of rail services
OnePoll: the public's view of rail services

A whopping 87 per cent of the public feel the latest wave of rail fare increases are unjustified, as New Year rises sparked widespread anger.

According to the latest research by PRWeek/OnePoll, the cost of travel is the public's biggest frustration with rail services - at 45 per cent. It was more than double that of train delays, which came in second with 19 per cent.

This is a concern that operators of the HS2 project, which received the go-ahead last week, should keep in mind.

Fifty-seven per cent of respondents blamed the rail companies rather than the Government for the increases.

There also seems to be long-term disillusionment with the overall handling of rail services.

Half of those asked believed the standard of service had dropped since privatisation.
Despite this, when asked how they felt about rail services in general, more chose 'adequate' (37 per cent) than any other option.

Both cars (39 per cent) and buses (31 per cent) were seen as better value for money than their rail-bound counterpart, which had 18 per cent of the vote.

Virgin Trains was named as the rail company with the best reputation by 23 per cent, compared with second place East Coast (14 per cent) and London Underground in third (nine per cent).

Six in ten respondents felt rail services in Europe were better than in the UK, with Germany topping the table of those considered to offer the best service.

Survey of 2,000 members of the public conducted by global research agency OnePoll.

HOW I SEE IT- STEPHEN WADDINGTON, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SPEED

The timing of the public transport fare increases, to coincide with commuters returning to work after the Christmas break, was lousy. This time, it was compounded by delays and cancellations.

Combine this with overcrowded, dirty carriages and it is hardly surprising that commuters are critical and are turning to their mobiles to noisily voice their frustration.

There were no surprises in the results of the research. One sees the same on Facebook or Twitter feeds every day of the week.

Fare increases may be rooted in a sound commercial base, but operators have failed to build engagement and empathy with their customers around the commercial challenges of operating their businesses.

Operators must engage and build a participative relationship that is based on more than simply the process of travelling to and from work.

It is no coincidence that the rail firms cited by the research as having the best reputation are those that are most active on social media.

Which of the following commuter transport methods...

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