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Punctuality is key to rail recovery

With customers beginning to use rail services again after years of restrictions, Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of Transport Focus, explains why train operators need to focus on offering a reliable, punctuality service for passengers and how this can help rail grow in the years ahead.

train station

Time and time again, passengers tell us that their top priority for rail services is reliability. This has remained unchanged during the pandemic, and our latest survey reaffirms that a punctual, reliable service will be key to attracting people back to the railway. The Transport Focus Rail User Weekly Survey asks passengers in Great Britain about experiences of travelling by rail and how satisfied they were with their most recent train journey (made in the last seven days). Transport Focus obtains the views of approximately 500 rail passengers each week. Passengers rate how satisfied they were with their overall journey and a range of aspects including the punctuality of their service, the value for money of their ticket and several COVID-19-related measures. The surveys have underscored the need to focus on the core elements of service delivery; with more than eight in 10 rail passengers (85 per cent) being satisfied with their journey. Amongst its key findings was the need for a relentless focus on punctuality and reliability from train operators.

As more passengers return to using trains, rail has a difficult balance to strike. It must operate as efficiently as possible, grow ridership and income, while still meeting the needs of its existing passengers, alongside new and returning users.

Frequent services with enough space on-board to meet passenger demand and fares that are value for money will help ensure rail is an attractive option. As more passengers return to using trains, rail has a difficult balance to strike. It must operate as efficiently as possible, grow ridership and income, while still meeting the needs of its existing passengers, alongside new and returning users. It has never been more vital to focus on what is fundamentally important to passengers. The surveys have helped to highlight positives, and how much still needs to be improved. It also demonstrates a clear link between operators who deliver in these areas and the satisfaction levels of their passengers.