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Voice of the Customer

Rail passengers in the South East are the least satisfied in the country, according to a survey by consumer group Which? Overcrowding, poor value for money and dirty trains were among the issues raised by the poll of almost 7,000 travellers.

Southeastern was the joint worst performing operator in the research alongside Thameslink and Great Northern, with an overall satisfaction score of just 46%. Abellio Greater Anglia was almost as bad at 47%, followed by Southern (48%) and Arriva Trains Wales (49%).

Long-running improvement work at London Bridge station has contributed to disruption in the South East.

Figures released by the Office of Rail and Road last week revealed that Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) – which is responsible for Thameslink and Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services – had the most delays and cancellations caused by a lack of train staff between April 1 2013 and December 12 last year with 62,000 incidents.

Grand Central came top of the Which? table with an overall score of 79%, achieving the maximum of five stars for availability of seating, punctuality, cleanliness of trains, reliability and value for money.

Hull Trains was the runner-up at 73%.

Almost a third (32%) of commuters said they experienced delays on their last journey.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Our report shows that commuters are getting a raw deal from their train operator. Whether it’s dirty facilities on the train, overcrowding or delayed trains, it is clear operators need to up their game.

“Rail operators need to do much more to treat their customers fairly, providing better information and access to compensation when passengers are delayed.”

Which? surveyed 6,986 commuter and leisure passengers in November last year about their train journeys during the past 12 months.

The National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) of more than 28,000 people published by Transport Focus last month found an increase in overall satisfaction to 83% in autumn 2015 – up from 81% year on year.

Southeastern recorded a satisfaction score of 75%, while Thameslink and Great Northern were split to give scores of 73% and 84% respectively.

A Southeastern spokesman said: “We’re part way through a £70 million investment programme, refurbishing our trains and stations, providing more front line employees for passengers, improving customer service training and providing more real time information during journeys.”

GTR issued a statement which read: “We know that passenger satisfaction is strongly linked to punctuality and together with our partners Network Rail, we are working hard to improve performance by reducing the delays within our control.”

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators and Network Rail, said: “We’re sorry when our passengers don’t get the service they expect. We never want people to suffer delays or disruption.

“Overall satisfaction among rail passengers is up significantly, according to the latest comprehensive survey by independent watchdog Transport Focus, but we know that we can do better to run more trains on time more often.”

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