Rail fares value tops commuter list

Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Better value for money rail tickets is the number one priority for passengers, according to new research.

A study by watchdog Passenger Focus found that travellers also wanted a seat, extra and more punctual trains and better information on delays.

The survey of 3,500 passengers found that other items on their wish list included faster journey times and free Wi-Fi.

David Sidebottom, director of Passenger Focus, said: “This research should be key reading for the rail industry and governments.

“It provides a wealth of data which points to passengers’ improvement priorities for years to come. It is a manifesto for rail passengers.

“Value for money is passengers’ number one priority. This is closely linked to the core provision of a good train service – more trains that run on time and delays that are dealt with effectively when they happen.

“The rail industry needs to continue focusing its efforts on delivering these core improvements that passengers really want whether in franchise renewals or investment programmes.

“For the first time, free Wi-Fi on trains has made it into the top ten of passengers’ priorities for improvement.”

Passengers wanted seating, toilets, bins, platform shelters and waiting rooms improved at railway stations.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “The hard reality is that while profits are put before people on Britain’s privatised railways there is not a cat in hell’s chance of passengers getting decent value, capacity to meet increasing demand or the guarantee of a seat unless the racketeering and exploitation is brought to an end.

“With the British paying the highest fares in Europe to travel on some of the most unreliable and overcrowded trains, the dream of a fair deal and a decent service will remain just that unless the public demand for an end to privatisation is honoured by the political elite.”

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said: “These findings are hardly surprising when walk-on ticket fares on the most popular lines have risen by up to 245% since the Tories sold off our railways 20 years ago.

“We are now paying the highest fares in Europe despite taxpayers’ subsidies of over £4 billion a year to a railway system which is a third less efficient than our publicly-owned European rivals.”

Michael Roberts, director-general of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators and Network Rail, said: “Passengers are at the heart of what we do, which is why the rail industry always listens carefully to their feedback.

“While overall passenger satisfaction remains near a record high, we know that we need to keep on improving, driving up the quality of services to respond to customers’ needs and the growing demand for rail travel.

“All parts of the industry are working hard to reduce delays, provide more seats on trains and make every pound that passengers spend go further.”

Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “As part of our long-term economic plan, more than £38 billion is being invested to build a better railway that provides more trains, more seats and more services for passengers, reversing decades of under-investment in the network.

“We recognise the concerns passenger have about fares. This is why the Chancellor announced the extension of the average regulated fare freeze of RPI+0% into 2015.

“I also understand the frustration of rail passengers forced to stand on busy services and that is why I am calling on train operators to do more.”

Published: Friday 10th October 2014 by The News Editor

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