Rail Passengers in East Cambs are “Least Satisfied”

Just 33 per cent of 2,027 rail users quizzed by Passenger Focus in the autumn 2011 survey said that NXEA offered value for money for the price of a ticket, with FCC polling just 38 per cent,

RAIL passengers in East Cambridgeshire are among the least satisfied rail travellers in Britain.

According to figures released by the independent watchdog Passenger Focus, the districts two main rail operators, National Express East Anglia (NXEA) and First Capital Connect received the lowest overall rating for customer satisfaction.

Just 77 per cent of those questioned in the National Passenger Survey, published last week, thought NXEA provided a satisfactory or good service, down one per cent on last year.

First Capital Connect (FCC) meanwhile, was second lowest, with 80 per cent of users satisfied with their service, though it represented a four per cent year-on-year improvement for the company.

NXEA, whose hold on the franchise runs out on Sunday, also registered the lowest satisfaction in terms of value for money and was rated joint bottom with FCC in terms of train punctuality at 77 per cent.

Just 33 per cent of 2,027 rail users quizzed by Passenger Focus in the autumn 2011 survey said that NXEA offered value for money for the price of a ticket, with FCC polling just 38 per cent,

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Andrew Chivers, managing director, National Express East Anglia said the company was "obviously disappointed" with the results.

"We have been determined to improve customer satisfaction rates in our eight years running this railway. And while they are higher than when we started, they have not increased by as much as we had hoped," he said.

"We're encouraged by some of the improvement the survey reports in areas such as availability and comfort of seats on trains. We believe this investment will help in improving customer satisfaction for future surveys."

A First Capital Connect spokesman said:

"It is encouraging that FCC is one of only two train operators in the UK to record a significant increase in overall customer satisfaction, which is now the highest it has been in the life of this franchise. However, we know we have a lot more to do to improve our passengers' experience.

"As well as the improvement in overall satisfaction, there was a significant increase year on year in satisfaction rates for punctuality and overall satisfaction with our stations. In total, satisfaction levels increased in 24 of the 32 categories."

Passenger Focus is the independent consumer watchdog for Britain's rail passengers and England’s bus, coach and tram passengers.

Nationally the percentage of passengers satisfied with their journey overall was 84 per cent, while the proportion of passengers satisfied with punctuality and reliability was 81 per cent.

The proportion of passengers satisfied with value for money for the price of their ticket nationally was just 46 per cent.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said: "The experience of Great Britain's passengers' ranges from mediocre to good. This demonstrates that there is no such thing as the average passenger. Satisfaction with value for money has gone down, illustrating the impact that tough economic times, coupled with fare rises, are having.

"These results will enable the industry and government to focus resources and effort where passenger satisfaction remains in the doldrums. It can be done and passengers will give them credit when investment and proactive management coincide."


Theo Ogier, from Ely, who regularly travels into Cambridge, said:

"The service could definitely be better. My train is late a lot of the time and they are quite expensive."


Jo Watson, from Ely, who catches the train in Cambridge, said:

"It is a bit too expensive, especially when you are not getting the service to match. It gets very busy in the mornings going into Cambridge and sometimes I struggle to get a seat."


Sarah Prentis, from Ely, said: "I think the service is pretty good here compared to other places. I do think that I get value for money for my ticket."


Andrea Harris, from Ely, who travels into Downham Market, said: "I think the service here is good. If there are delays they are only a couple of minutes so it is a lot better than other places."


Louise Hawkins, from Ely, who catches the train into Littleport, said: "The trains I catch are normally ok, I would prefer to use a train than use a car. I think they could perhaps do with a few more seats on the evening service, though."


Sarah Norman, from Ely, who travels into Cambridge, said: "I'd say the service is average, sometimes I struggle to get seats on the journey into Cambridge. I don’t think the value for money is brilliant, especially as prices have just gone up."


Joe McEnaney, from Ely, who studies in Cambridge, said: "The service is pretty bad. We used to get the 9.24am in Cambridge and it was always late by 5-10 minutes. Some people have got exams to get to and if the trains are late they are in danger of missing them."