Northern Rail passengers among least satisfied in UK

12:00pm Monday 27th January 2014

By Alex Bysouth

PASSENGERS using Northwich and Greenbank stations are among the least satisfied in the country, according to a recent survey.

In the National Rail Passenger Survey, train provider Northern Rail ranked second lowest for overall customer satisfaction.

From a sample of 1,200 passengers using the provider, 78 per cent said they were satisfied with the service – Heathrow Express top scored with 96 per cent.

The survey, conducted by independent passenger watchdog Passenger Focus, showed a 2 per cent decrease in passengers’ satisfaction since autumn 2012, but an increase of three per cent since the spring.

“We’re disappointed to hear that our passengers’ overall satisfaction with Northern has declined slightly since this time last year,” said managing director Alex Hynes.

“But it is encouraging that overall satisfaction has improved since spring 2013 and the improvement in many individual scores reflects the work we have been doing.

“Our on-going investment in train cleaning, refreshing our train interiors and strong focus on delivering an on-time railway is reflected in these scores.

“We are listening and responding to customers and have more plans in the pipeline for this year.”

However, Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association chairman John Oates explained Northern’s service is limited by the trains provided to them from Department for Transport.

"We're not surprised to see this,” he said. “We think Northern are trying hard under difficult circumstances.

“The average age of trains in the UK is 22 years. This side of the Pennines, Northern's youngest trains are 22 and Northern also have the bulk of the oldest diesel trains in the UK.

“This is all decided by DfT in London, not by Northern who are contractors to DfT and can do next to nothing about it.

“Customers are far more likely to say nice things about travelling on nice new trains than on much older trains that have been passed on from other parts of the country.”

Combined, Northwich and Greenbank stations provide 450,000 passengers-a-year and Mr Oates it is time for the Government to invest in schemes like the Northern Hub and North West Triangle Electrification.

"This part of the country has much poorer facilities at railway stations than most of the rest of the UK,” he said.

“It's time Government started investing serious money in this part of England, rather than putting the bulk of the investment into London and the South East.

“Much more needs to happen to support growth in our local economy, rather than strangling it with clogged up roads and train services that would be considered woefully inadequate in South East England."

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