Published: 08:00, 15 August 2014
| Updated: 08:11, 15 August 2014
Southeastern is one of Britain's least trusted train companies, a new report reveals.
Passenger Focus research suggests commuters do not trust the company to provide a good day-to-day service, be truthful, fair or communicate well.
The watchdog's survey of 4,000 people found frustrated passengers do not feel train operators are "on their side".
Trust in the service involved delivery of the day-to-day service including five factors - punctuality/reliability, value for money, problem resolution, helpful staff on trains and helpful staff at stations.
Passengers agreeing on at least four of these measures were deemed to be showing a positive attitude, while those agreeing on four or more measures were counted as holding negative views.
"Passengers should feel that train companies are 'on their side'. We believe these issues should become part of new franchises..." - Passenger Focus chief executive Anthony Smith
Only three companies - Grand Central, Merseyrail and ScotRail - got positive marks, with Southeastern, Southern and First Great Western the furthest into negative territory.
Southeastern also got among the most negative marks for "trust in relationship", which involved five factors - being truthful, acting with honesty and integrity, building long-term relationships, treating customers fairly and communicating well with them.
And it was the only company to fall into negative territory when it came to trusting a train company's judgment, with categories including having high principles and doing the right thing even when no one was looking.
Passenger Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: "There is much that train companies - and governments - can do to improve trust. It is important for train companies to get the basic service right ahead of everything else.
"Then building on closer relationships with their passengers is important. One way is through high-quality communication.
"Passengers should feel that train companies are 'on their side'. We believe these issues should become part of new franchises."
Michael Roberts, director general of rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: "Passengers are at the heart of what we do and we know that we must keep improving, driving up the quality of services to respond to their needs.
"This survey gives everyone in the industry a clear indication of what is working well and where it can do better. We will continue efforts to improve, particularly in communicating with and providing information to passengers."
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