50,000 rail passengers are surveyed twice each year to create the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) results. They give a detailed insight into passenger satisfaction as those asked give answers related to 30 specific aspects of rail travel. In preparation for autumn’s findings, we’ve looked over the first results from this year and picked out the key takeaways.
Top 5 Highlights of the Rail Passenger Numbers
- Overall Satisfaction is Down But isn't as Bad as You Might Think
- Passengers Appreciate the Work that Staff Do
- Commuters Aren't Happy
- 50 Percent Think WiFi is Poor
- Delays Biggest Cause of Dissatisfaction But Punctuality Biggest Contributor to Satisfaction
1. Overall Satisfaction is Down But isn't as Bad as You Might Think
It probably comes as no surprise that the overall satisfaction figure is down, especially due to the recent strikes and increase in cancellations.
All kinds of factors are considered when creating this figure, including the level of crowding, how reliable the train service is and how the train companies deal with delays.
In the most recent figures, 81 percent of those asked labelled their journeys as good or satisfactory. This is a drop of 3 percent since 2017 but is still a higher score than might be expected.
2. Passengers Appreciate the Work that Staff Do
It’s clear that any frustration that passengers may have when travelling by rail isn’t directed towards the staff that work in the stations. When asked to rate the way that staff handle requests, 85 percent labelled them as good or satisfactory.
What might be of concern is that 14 percent of those asked thought that staff weren’t on hand when needed. They labelled them as dissatisfactory or poor when it came to availability.
3. Commuters Aren’t Happy
The NRPS figures are sorted into results from those commuting, travelling for business or travelling for leisure. It’s clear to see that the purpose of your journey impacts your overall enjoyment.
Twenty-three of the different factors asked about have dropped in satisfaction since 2017 for commuters. Whereas it’s 13 for those travelling for leisure and only 2 for business. This is probably because commuters are travelling at peak times and might be late for work because of issues with the trains.
4. 50 Percent Think WiFi is Poor
Half of the people that completed the NRPS survey marked the availability of WiFi as poor or dissatisfactory. The dreaded buffering circle is a common sight in rail carriages as devices regularly find and lose connection.
You might think that the WiFi results are worse in areas with signal blackspots, but they’re actually just as bad in rural areas. 52 percent of travellers through London found the availability of WiFi to be poor or dissatisfactory.
5. Delays Biggest Cause of Dissatisfaction But Punctuality Biggest Contributor to Satisfaction
The NRPS report categorised the factors that were the most and least satisfying for passengers. It’s clear that delays and cancellations are the biggest issue for most respondents.
Obviously, passengers are happy when a train is on time, but when it’s delayed and the issue isn’t dealt with well by the train company, then passengers are displeased. The actual reliability of the train isn’t as big a contributor to dissatisfaction, what’s more important is how companies respond to help fix the issue.
What We’ve Learnt from These Takeaways
Whatever the industry, customers expect much more from organisations when it comes to service. Social media has given every single consumer a voice that they can use to praise or criticise you.
Train Operating Companies (TOCs) need to do more to deal with unhappy customers in a quick and efficient manner to ensure problems are solved as soon as possible. Commuters, in particular, are unhappy passengers, so it’s worth looking into new initiatives that can improve their journeys. They might always have to deal with busy carriages for example, but services like free WiFi and providing up to date passenger information can help.
Passengers understand that they might have to deal with delays and have certain expectations when arriving at a station. This is shown in the overall satisfaction figure. Despite regular updates in the news about poor rail services and unhappy passengers, satisfaction is still over 80 percent.
Although the figure of 80 percent is still high, seven different TOCs saw the percentage of their journeys rated as satisfactory drop significantly. These TOCs operate around the country so it’s more than just a regional issue. It further highlights how important it is for train companies to take steps to improve passengers’ experience.
As we’ve already covered, half of those asked thought the WiFi was poor. There’s going to be connectivity issues, especially when travelling through regional blackspots. But the WiFi gives TOCs an amazing opportunity to improve their services and learn more about passengers when utilised correctly.
Download our eBook to Find Out More About WiFi and the Continuously Connected Passenger Journey
To find out how you can use WiFi to boost revenue and improve passengers’ journeys, download our comprehensive eBook. It covers the continuously connected passenger journey and how you can use data to make improvements to your services. Click the link below to download your free copy.