The South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance today pledged to continue investing in measures to boost customer satisfaction further as the latest National Passenger Survey results were released by Passenger Focus.
Satisfaction with train services on the South West Trains network overall continues to be high at 81%, which is consistent with the average for other train operators in London and the South East.
Only 6% of passengers interviewed between January and March 2013 said they were dissatisfied with the service.
However, Tim Shoveller, Managing Director for the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said he was determined to tackle areas where satisfaction rates were lower.
“We know the majority of our customers are satisfied with their service, but we accept we have more work to do and we are absolutely focused on making journeys better. The latest survey was carried out when severe weather affected the country and many transport operators. Snow, ice and flooding all had an impact on our network. There were also some significant infrastructure problems early in the year.
“I’m pleased that the most recent punctuality figures show more than 94% of our trains are running on time on a network which is one of the busiest in Europe. We carry three times more passengers each year than pass through Heathrow airport where flight punctuality is around 80%.
“Even so, we understand the impact that even the smallest delays can have on our passengers, and we are working hard to get even better. We are investing millions of pounds to increase reliability, with major schemes in place to improve signalling, the power supply, track and other infrastructure to make our customers’ journeys more reliable. Working more closely with Network Rail has helped us recover more quickly when things do go wrong.”
During recent weeks, investment has been made in new technology, more resources and a dedicated combined rail and British Transport Police unit which provides a faster response to passenger incidents. Since its launch in March, this unit has responded to 235 incidents on the network - including trespass and vandalism, fatalities and infrastructure issues.
The average response time has been just 17 minutes on a network with 643 miles of track, 1,375 sets of points and 4,394 signals.
Around £360 million is being spent on maintenance, renewal of ageing infrastructure and enhancements to deliver improved reliability. This includes major signalling schemes at Farnham and between Poole and Wool and work around Clapham Junction, which is one of the most intensively used pieces of rail network in the country.
Work is also taking place to prepare for the impact of different kinds of weather. An industrial sized vacuum called the “Drain Train”, is being used to suck out debris from drains across the network to stop them becoming blocked. In addition, further investment is being put in to manage drainage.
Providing extra capacity for passengers is a key priority for the alliance, and this summer will see the roll-out of the first of 108 carriages being delivered as part of a £120 million programme to provide extra capacity on the South West Trains network. This will see space created for over 23,000 extra peak-time passengers every day.
Mr Shoveller added: “Since privatisation of the railway 18 years ago, more than 100 million extra passengers are using our trains. The introduction of dozens of extra carriages will make a significant difference to passengers and will enable us to provide a 10-car railway on some of our busiest routes.”