Praise for Grand Central in National Rail Passenger Survey

York Press: Praise for Grand Central in National Rail Passenger Survey Praise for Grand Central in National Rail Passenger Survey

A YORK train operator has some of the most satisfied passengers in the country - while another has some of the least, according to a new survey.

Ninety-five per cent of customers questioned last autumn on Grand Central’s trains were satisfied, or very satisfied, with the service, according to the latest National Rail Passenger Survey.

The figure is the best for any long-distance train operator in the country and two per cent up on the firm’s score for last spring, but one per cent down on its figure for autumn 2012.

Richard McClean, managing director of the company, which runs trains from York to London and Sunderland, said he was delighted with the response.

He said: “We always aim to improve the Grand Central experience for passengers and we know there are specific areas where we can do better.”

York-based Northern, which runs trains from the city to destinations such as Leeds and Harrogate, had the second-worst satisfaction levels in the country at only 78 per cent – up three per cent on its spring rating but down one per cent on autumn 2012.

Managing director Alex Hynes said he was disappointed by the slight decline, but felt it was encouraging that overall satisfaction had improved since the spring.

He said: “Our ongoing investment in train cleaning, refreshing our train interiors and strong focus on delivering an on-time railway is reflected in these scores.

“We are listening and responding to customers and have more plans in the pipeline for this year.”

Another York company running trains to London, East Coast, achieved 91 per cent satisfaction in the survey, conducted by independent transport watchdog Passenger Focus, up five per cent on its figure for the previous spring, but down one per cent on autumn 2012.

Managing director Karen Boswell said she was ‘very proud and pleased’ with the rating, adding: “We want to say thank you to our customers for their positive and encouraging responses to the improvements we’ve already made.”

First TransPennine Express, which runs trains from York to cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, scored 85 per cent satisfaction, the same as in the spring and down three per cent on autumn 2012.

Managing director Nick Donovan said that last autumn had presented a number of challenges.

But the future was bright, with new longer trains and more customer capacity.

Comments (4)

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12:27pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Ignatius Lumpopo says...

Well done Grand Central - always a nice change from East Coast. I love GC's novel idea where, when when you book a window seat, you actually get a piece of glass to look out through. And they have that thing that stops you getting cramp after the first fifteen minutes: what's it called? Ah yes: "leg room"...

Lovely old picture of Kings Cross. That footbridge hasn't been there for years
Well done Grand Central - always a nice change from East Coast. I love GC's novel idea where, when when you book a window seat, you actually get a piece of glass to look out through. And they have that thing that stops you getting cramp after the first fifteen minutes: what's it called? Ah yes: "leg room"... Lovely old picture of Kings Cross. That footbridge hasn't been there for years Ignatius Lumpopo
  • Score: 5

1:00pm Wed 22 Jan 14

invisibleman says...

All these figures are not as accurate as they are made out to be, the smaller commuter trains have to make way for the inter-city trains. I have sat on a train for nearly twenty minutes waiting for a platform because an intercity train would have left York 3 mins late. As far as transpennine is concerned - your rush hour service is a joke. The 07-40 Liverpool train was 25 mins late on Monday morning, resulting in a total journey time of 2 hours for me - I live exactly 30 miles from work. Even at 7am there is not enough capacity on the Leeds bound trains, resulting in people having to stand. I have already started saving up for another car.
All these figures are not as accurate as they are made out to be, the smaller commuter trains have to make way for the inter-city trains. I have sat on a train for nearly twenty minutes waiting for a platform because an intercity train would have left York 3 mins late. As far as transpennine is concerned - your rush hour service is a joke. The 07-40 Liverpool train was 25 mins late on Monday morning, resulting in a total journey time of 2 hours for me - I live exactly 30 miles from work. Even at 7am there is not enough capacity on the Leeds bound trains, resulting in people having to stand. I have already started saving up for another car. invisibleman
  • Score: 4

3:04pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Yeahbutno says...

Fair play to Grand Central. When they first started they had a couple of old, knackered trains that they presumably got cheap from somewhere, that kept breaking down.
Now their trains are new, clean, reliable, and you get free wifi as well (compared to 15 mins on East Coast). And as a previous poster mentioned, MUCH more legroom.
I travel to London every week, and always book GC when possible.
Fair play to Grand Central. When they first started they had a couple of old, knackered trains that they presumably got cheap from somewhere, that kept breaking down. Now their trains are new, clean, reliable, and you get free wifi as well (compared to 15 mins on East Coast). And as a previous poster mentioned, MUCH more legroom. I travel to London every week, and always book GC when possible. Yeahbutno
  • Score: 5

2:38am Thu 23 Jan 14

Magicman! says...

Grand Central have done a grand job, especially when you consider all the stick they got when they started off. They had three Intercity 125 trains (the type as pictured) and they kept developing faults which meant they had to keep going in for maintenance and fault fixing; to the point people wondered if theyd ever run a service, and some of the more professional people in the industry thought they would flop and die out like a beached whale.

What it goes to show is their concept is one that works:- offer decent amount of legroom, set up the IC125 coaches back to their original layout whereby every seat aligns to a window, offer fresh interiors and a high level of customer service - whilst at the same time also managing to offer good value fares (£60 to London, that being the walk-on fare compared to over double that on any company that has operated the franchised ECML service). What has helped their cause is that they are an Open Access Operator, they are allocated a small number of paths on the lines and do not have to pay massive premium fees back to the government for the privelege of running trains; it is these premiums that drive up the ticket prices and drive down levels of customer service. Remember when National Express ran the East Coast trains? they won the contract for the franchise because they said they would pay the government the most amount of money back for running the trains; their fares went up and so not enough people used the train as expected because it was expensive, and the franchise went bankrupt so that the government had to take it over (which led to the current 'East Coast' company being formed). When it comes to the crunch, and regardless of who is in power, the government just sees massive £ signs when it comes to franchising out train routes, and it's the passenger that loses out.

...Look at the situation that erupted with the West Coast franchise. Okay so the Bearded One didn't want to lose his red shiny trains to the Pink One (Firstgroup) - but his point was that his bid was the best they could offer for the capacity of the route, and that First's bid was unsustainable - and that the government had decided First had won the franchise simply because it had said they would pay the most money for it... and Branson was proven dead right. The financial charts indicated First were expected to make premium payments at exponentially-increa
sing amounts in the last 5 years of the franchise, but that there had been no allocation given to longer trains beyond the current 11-coach Pendolino's so no more passengers would be able to be carried on the trains; there had been no allocation for line capacity improvements, faster linespeeds, or extra lines... so basically the government were demanding that Firstgroup would pay back huge sums more money for not physically being able to carry enough passengers to get in enough revenue to make those payments - it was a bankruptcy in the making and regardless of whether you like him or not, Branson managed to stop it.

... the UK should have more companies like Grand Central and less franchises which the government see as a huge cash cow. (there are plans for more Open Acess companies, search for Alliance Rail...)
Grand Central have done a grand job, especially when you consider all the stick they got when they started off. They had three Intercity 125 trains (the type as pictured) and they kept developing faults which meant they had to keep going in for maintenance and fault fixing; to the point people wondered if theyd ever run a service, and some of the more professional people in the industry thought they would flop and die out like a beached whale. What it goes to show is their concept is one that works:- offer decent amount of legroom, set up the IC125 coaches back to their original layout whereby every seat aligns to a window, offer fresh interiors and a high level of customer service - whilst at the same time also managing to offer good value fares (£60 to London, that being the walk-on fare compared to over double that on any company that has operated the franchised ECML service). What has helped their cause is that they are an Open Access Operator, they are allocated a small number of paths on the lines and do not have to pay massive premium fees back to the government for the privelege of running trains; it is these premiums that drive up the ticket prices and drive down levels of customer service. Remember when National Express ran the East Coast trains? they won the contract for the franchise because they said they would pay the government the most amount of money back for running the trains; their fares went up and so not enough people used the train as expected because it was expensive, and the franchise went bankrupt so that the government had to take it over (which led to the current 'East Coast' company being formed). When it comes to the crunch, and regardless of who is in power, the government just sees massive £ signs when it comes to franchising out train routes, and it's the passenger that loses out. ...Look at the situation that erupted with the West Coast franchise. Okay so the Bearded One didn't want to lose his red shiny trains to the Pink One (Firstgroup) - but his point was that his bid was the best they could offer for the capacity of the route, and that First's bid was unsustainable - and that the government had decided First had won the franchise simply because it had said they would pay the most money for it... and Branson was proven dead right. The financial charts indicated First were expected to make premium payments at exponentially-increa sing amounts in the last 5 years of the franchise, but that there had been no allocation given to longer trains beyond the current 11-coach Pendolino's so no more passengers would be able to be carried on the trains; there had been no allocation for line capacity improvements, faster linespeeds, or extra lines... so basically the government were demanding that Firstgroup would pay back huge sums more money for not physically being able to carry enough passengers to get in enough revenue to make those payments - it was a bankruptcy in the making and regardless of whether you like him or not, Branson managed to stop it. ... the UK should have more companies like Grand Central and less franchises which the government see as a huge cash cow. (there are plans for more Open Acess companies, search for Alliance Rail...) Magicman!
  • Score: 3

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