YORK-BASED East Coast has been voted number one by Britain’s rail passengers - marking a milestone in customer satisfaction since the once-failing service was rescued by being placed in public ownership.

A yardstick survey of more than 1,000 travellers has revealed those using the East Coast main line are enjoying the best deal in the country from a long distance franchised train operator.

It is also good news for the wider public because the company has been able to hand £1 billion back to the national tax payer rather than pay dividends to share-holders.

East Coast achieved a 91 per cent overall satisfaction rating for a record second time in a row in the National Rail Passenger Survey, by independent watchdog Passenger Focus. East Coast says it underlines the turnaround which has been achieved since November 2009, when the main line service was struggling both financially and in terms of customer satisfaction.

Now East Coast’s services continue to achieve best-ever results for reliability for the first three months of the financial year, with an average of 92 per cent of trains arriving on time in April, May and June 2014.

Managing director Karen Boswell said: “We’re very proud.” In the same survey, York based train operator Grand Central scored 94 per cent customer satisfaction and were rated as best value for money and for handling delays.