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Train operator Southern ranked worst for passenger trust in Transport Focus survey

Rail services run by Southern are the least trusted by passengers, according to a survey by a campaign group.

The operator, which runs a limited number of services in Kent, chiefly from Ashford, had the lowest trust score of all operators over two years.

The survey was carried out by the campaign group Transport Focus and tested public opinion about rail services and passenger trust over two years.

Southern railways is part of the Go-Ahead Group
Southern railways is part of the Go-Ahead Group

According to the survey, Southern - which runs trains on the Tonbridge to Redhill line - had the lowest trust score of 17% in 2017 rising marginally to 18% in spring 2018 and 22% in autumn.

Its poor rating was against a backdrop of a long-running wrangle over the plans to introduce driver-only trains on the network, which led to a prolonged dispute with unions.

Southern said the difficulties over running trains during a dispute that stretched over three years but there had since been an improvement. The survey coincided with the chaotic introduction of new timetables.

Southeastern had a better trust rating but was placed in the bottom third of operators. It had a trust score of 35% in spring 2017, which fell to 32% in autumn 2017 then rose marginally to 33% in spring 2018 then dropping to 31% in autumn.

A Southeastern train. Stock picture (11855545)
A Southeastern train. Stock picture (11855545)

A spokesman for the Go-Ahead group, the parent company of Southern and Southeastern trains, said: "This report reflects the industry-wide issues surrounding the timetable changes last May.

"Punctuality and reliability are now firmly back on track, with record service levels on Southern, and we are running over 400 more services every weekday on the country's busiest network.

"We are working more closely with Network Rail to reduce the effects of infrastructure problems and have made some major improvements in communication to passengers at times of disruption.”

Transport Focus submitted its analysis to the Government-commissioned Rail Review, which will make recommendations about the future of Britain's railway.

Chief executive Anthony Smith said: "There are some wide variations between train operators that keenly reflect the passenger experience.

"Public trust in the railway is fragile but has never been more important. Building a good relationship with passengers will need to be a central part of any reform programme for the railway.”

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