Train pain as service hits buffers
5:30am Tuesday 19th August 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
FIRST Great Western has come out as one of the least trustworthy train companies in the country in a customer survey.
Rail Watchdog Pass-enger Focus conducted the survey and revealed the results over the weekend.
It places FGW, who run services through Swin-don, in the bottom three least trusted of all the companies, along with Southern and Southeast-ern.
The company has said it acknowledges work needs to be done to improve trust among passengers and says several programmes have already begun.
FGW spokesman Dan Panes said: “We recognise there is a trust issue which affects FGW as well as the whole industry, and it is something which we are working on.
“We have already begun work to build that trust up with our customers.
“Across our trains we are replacing one first class carriage with a standard carriage and putting additional staff on the stations to help passengers.
“We appreciate though that we have to do more to communicate with people.
“It is important that we let them know what we are doing and how we are doing it.”
FGW say there are a number of factors which may have contributed to the company performing poorly in the survey, most notably the poor weather earlier in the year which had a drastic effect on the lines in the south west.
“It is certainly worth noting that the questionnaires were carried out in February when we were hit badly by the weather,” said Dan.
“For a lot of that time we had services down across our whole network so I think that is bound to have had an effect.
“What is also noticeable is that it doesn’t seem to correlate with service performance. Some companies which have scored highly here have done poorly in service surveys.
“It will be interesting to read these figures again next year because all of our internal indicators show that trust is on the increase but we acknowledge there is work to do.”
Colin Foxall, the chairman of Passenger Focus, said: “This isn’t just an academic issue as there are billions of pounds being invested in tracks, trains and stations, on top of the fares passengers themselves are paying.
“There is a risk that some of the value from this is lost so long as general perceptions of rail lag behind delivery.
“This research is an attempt to unlock some of this potential and to guide industry and policymakers to make good spending decisions about passengers’ priorities.
“This research is not about improving the image of the railways.
“Rather it is about highlighting those areas where passengers’ relationship with the rail industry is low and suggesting how this could be improved.”