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Published: 16:06, 28 January 2020
| Updated: 11:19, 29 January 2020
Eight in 10 Southeastern customers are said to be satisfied with train services in Kent - despite the operator being ranked the lowest in the UK for value for money.
Passengers gave the company an overall satisfaction rating of 81% - it's highest result in seven years, according to the National Rail Passenger Survey.
But the results also show only 39% of Southeastern customers feel its services are value for money - the second worst ranking in the UK, and only 44% of customers are happy with how it handles delays.
It also had the fourth lowest rating (79%) among passengers for "overall satisfaction with the station".
Southern had an overall satisfaction rating of 82% - its highest level for seven years.
But was also ranked the fourth worst (37%) for how it handles delays, was the sixth worst (45%) for value for money, and eight worst (72%) for level of crowding.
Meanwhile, only 42% of Thameslink passengers said its services were value for money - the UK's joint third lowest rating.
Despite also having an overall satisfaction rating of 82%, the company had the fifth worst rating (69%) for punctuality/reliability and the sixth worst rating (39%) for how it handles delays.
The survey of Thameslink passengers included journeys on the Bedford to Kent route, including Denmark Hill and Sevenoaks, and those between West Dulwich and Orpington.
A total of 25 rail providers in England, Scotland, and Wales, were included in the report.
Carried out by Transport Focus, the survey provides a network-wide picture of customers' satisfaction with rail travel by collecting the opinion of train services twice a year from a representative sample of passenger journeys.
Reacting to the results, Southeastern pointed out its overall satisfaction rating of 81% - a 3% year-on-year increase was the train operator's highest Autumn result since 2013.
A spokesman said: "Four out of five passengers are satisfied with our service, and these results are a 3% improvement on the previous year's survey, but we know there’s always more we can and will do to keep improving.
"In 2019 we introduce the improved Delay Repay 15 compensation scheme, and we've invested over £70 million in improvements including; extra seating at stations, measures to improve train punctuality, and award-winning cycle parking facilities."
Southern said the results showed the company was the 17th equal best in terms of value for money.
A spokesman said: "People want better value for money which is why the rail industry has put forward bold proposals to government for a new fares system which will help to deliver this.
"As part of this, Southern and the government are trialling a flexi season ticket which will be ideal for part-time workers.
"Also, under the terms of our franchise, we don't approve our ticket prices or keep the income, so our focus is on providing the best possible service for everyone who travels with us."
Thameslink and Great Northern managing director Tom Moran said: "This is an encouraging set of results, which shows we are heading in the right direction.
"Passengers are responding positively to our new trains, extra services and roll-out of smart ticketing.
"However, we have much more to do, particularly in our drive to reduce delays, and we’ll continue to work closely with Network Rail to address problems with the signalling, power and track.
"We are also now working on a multi-million pound investment programme to improve every one of our stations.
"We recognise that our customers want better value for money.
"As, under the terms of our franchise, we don’t approve our ticket prices or keep the income, our focus is on providing the best possible service for everyone who travels on Thameslink and Great Northern."
Pressure has been growing on officials amid delays to Thameslink service from Maidstone East.
Campaigners also earlier hit out at price hikes affecting rail passengers, saying some of the county's services are "slower than steam trains".
More by this authorGeoffrey Bew