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Poll
Question: Which of these are significant stumbling blocks putting people off coming to use trains?  (Voting closed: July 12, 2021, 05:09:27 am)
Catering issues on trains or at stations - 7 (6.5%)
Cycle and reservation problems - 6 (5.6%)
Failures of running to schedule - going wrong far too often - 9 (8.4%)
Fares confusion and complexity - 11 (10.3%)
General online booking / "train full" when it isn't, etc - 10 (9.3%)
Lack of enough trains on routes - 12 (11.2%)
Lack of ongoing connections - 7 (6.5%)
Lack of safe capacity on trains - 10 (9.3%)
Not looking after customers when it goes wrong - 14 (13.1%)
Problems getting to/from stations at rail journey ends - 6 (5.6%)
Seat reservation problems - 7 (6.5%)
Understanding what's available - information systems - 7 (6.5%)
Something else (please post) - 1 (0.9%)
None of the above - 0 (0%)
Total Voters: 22

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Author Topic: Passenger issues - what needs sorting out for the customer experience?  (Read 2099 times)
grahame
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« on: July 05, 2021, 05:09:27 am »

This forum for rail passengers should have been worked out of existence by now - but it hasn't been.  In some ways I love the quiet months where I have to "seed" lighter side and out of area threads because they indcate that very little has been going wrong, on the basis that people complain far more than they compliment.

Many of the issues are the same ones we had a decade ago too.  I put this dozen together - regular members will recognise just about all of them from recent threads on our core passenger experience agenda. They are in alphabetic order - not categorised in any other way.

Catering issues on trains or at stations
Cycle and reservation problems
Failures of running to schedule - going wrong far too often
Fares confusion and complexity
General online booking / "train full" when it isn't, etc
Lack of enough trains on routes
Lack of ongoing connections
Lack of safe capacity on trains
Not looking after customers when it goes wrong
Problems getting to/from stations at rail journey ends
Seat reservation problems
Understanding what's available - information systems

We have moved forward on many issues over the years - natural development - and there are so many excellent people in the rail industry and governance working hard on them, but problems remain that put people off using rail.  For the future, please select which if any (and you may select them all if you wish) are serious current issues that will / are putting people off the use of rail over the next year or two.
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Marlburian
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2021, 04:19:20 pm »

I marked only two:lack of safe capacity and lack of enough trains.

It's slightly ironic that the poll was published on the day when there's a lot of media (and no doubt public) discussion about face masks ceasing to be compulsory from July 19 (though there's speculation that TFL (Transport for London) may try to continue with the ban).

I intend to keep on wearing a mask in certain situations (such as confined indoor areas), but don't fancy doing so for very long periods. I gather that doing so lessens the risk to others rather than to the wearer and I don't fancy being close up to maskless passengers.

Time was when I would take the train to a nearby town or village and walk, before returning home by rail. But the current hourly service to and from Tilehurst doesn't encourage this, compared with the previous half-hourly one.

As for travelling east through Reading, it seems eons ago since in January 2020 I was lamenting having to hang around on the station for a connecting service at certain times of the day.

I didn't bother to renew my Senior Railcard that expired two weeks ago.
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GBM
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« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2021, 07:08:38 am »

Agree with Marlburian on mask wearing.
Will keep mine on indoors as and when I feel unsafe; will also still try to keep a little distance (my social comfort area) between people.

Have not voted as yet.  Still debating.
Will travel by train when I mentally feel safe to do so.

Yes, I know I'm a bus driver, but I feel safe in my driving environment.
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2021, 10:26:27 am »

Which of these are significant stumbling blocks putting people off coming to use trains?

Great Western Coffee Shop Forum poll - taken from 5th to 12th December 2021

Not looking after customers when it goes wrong   - 64% of voters selected this option
Lack of enough trains on routes   - 55%
Fares confusion and complexity   - 50%

General online booking / "train full" when it isn't, etc   - 45%
Lack of safe capacity on trains   - 45%
Failures of running to schedule - going wrong far too often   - 41%

Catering issues on trains or at stations   - 32%
Lack of ongoing connections   - 32%
Seat reservation problems   - 32%
Understanding what's available - information systems   - 32%
Cycle and reservation problems   - 27%
Problems getting to/from stations at rail journey ends   - 27%

Something else (please post)   - 5%
None of the above   - 0 (0%)

So sad that not a single person voted "none of the above" ...

Lessons here for GWR (Great Western Railway) and others in the rail industry, or do they know all about these things than put people off, but (for whatever reason) haven't addressed them to the extent of removing the stumbling block?
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Rhydgaled
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2021, 05:00:49 pm »

Think I missed the poll but perhaps I've been fortunate in my past rail usage since 'failures of running to schedule' don't feature highly on my list of issues that need sorting out (though I can very much understand why people would be put off by this).

For me the big one (since it has completely put me off rail travel, hopefully temporarily) is the risk of COVID-19 and the discomfort of having to wear a face mask for more than a few minutes at a time.

Before COVID, I would avoid travelling on certain routes and in general the reason for this has been lack of comfortable capacity on trains. Note the subtley different wording to the poll options, I don't think I have ever felt a train is unsafe purely because it is too busy but I have certainly been uncomfortable on trains even when I am the only passenger on the train. The comfortable capacity on a class 150 for a journey of much over 1hr is zero (because of inadequate legroom) and the comfortable capacity of a class 800 for a journey of more than about 90-95 minutes is also zero (because the seats are too hard). I also avoid XC Voyagers, because of the likelyhood of having to stand (uncomfortable), sit on the floor (much less uncomfortable than standing but massively inconvienent for everyone) and/or being unable to see out of the windows (because seats are aligned with thick window pillars).

The following are also issues for me at times (aren't the last two the same thing?)
Lack of enough trains on routes
Lack of ongoing connections
Problems getting to/from stations at rail journey ends
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Don't DOO (Driver-Only Operation (that is, trains which operate without carrying a guard)) it, keep the guard (but it probably wouldn't be a bad idea if the driver unlocked the doors on arrival at calling points).
grahame
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2021, 06:42:39 pm »

The following are also issues for me at times (aren't the last two the same thing?)
Lack of enough trains on routes
Lack of ongoing connections
Problems getting to/from stations at rail journey ends

No - or not intended - to be the sam thing.

Lack of ongoing connection is the lack of a train.   London to Melksham, on the first train off London in the morning, gets you to Chippenham at 06:31 but there isn't a train to Melksham until 08:59

Problems getting to/from stations at rail journey ends is getting to Chippenham Station at 06:31 as above, and finding that the first bus from there to Lacock doesn't leave until 14:11 (yeah, sure, if you know where to go you can walk or get another bus to the bus station and get the bus from there to Lacock)
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Rhydgaled
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2021, 09:36:53 am »

The following are also issues for me at times (aren't the last two the same thing?)
Lack of enough trains on routes
Lack of ongoing connections
Problems getting to/from stations at rail journey ends

No - or not intended - to be the sam thing.

Lack of ongoing connection is the lack of a train.   London to Melksham, on the first train off London in the morning, gets you to Chippenham at 06:31 but there isn't a train to Melksham until 08:59

Problems getting to/from stations at rail journey ends is getting to Chippenham Station at 06:31 as above, and finding that the first bus from there to Lacock doesn't leave until 14:11 (yeah, sure, if you know where to go you can walk or get another bus to the bus station and get the bus from there to Lacock)
Ah, ok. I've had the first one by mistake once (went from Nottingham to Leicester expecting a Birmingham to Stansted train to call heading east but had to wait an hour or two in Leicester because it was a Sunday and XC hadn't woken up early enough - I must have accidently entered the wrong date when searching for train times the day before).

What I was thinking of was probably more your second one, since lack of ongoing bus connection (or no train connecting out of bus) is one of the gripes I have with the public transport network round here. Either the connection is too tight, the bus serves the town centre and not the station (too far to walk to make it it time for the train) or the first train of the afternoon/evening doesn't reach the station until the last bus to the 'end of the line' has already long gone and all there is happens to be a bus which terminates short (because that's where it's depot is - there is another depot at the 'end of the line' but that depot is responsible for only one or two of the four or five vehicles used on that bus route).
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Don't DOO (Driver-Only Operation (that is, trains which operate without carrying a guard)) it, keep the guard (but it probably wouldn't be a bad idea if the driver unlocked the doors on arrival at calling points).
grahame
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2021, 09:55:04 am »

Ah, ok. I've had the first one by mistake once (went from Nottingham to Leicester expecting a Birmingham to Stansted train to call heading east but had to wait an hour or two in Leicester because it was a Sunday and XC hadn't woken up early enough - I must have accidently entered the wrong date when searching for train times the day before).

This is a really big issue for those of us who live on infrequent-ly served lines.  People are happy to walk to their local service on their outbound journey, or perhaps get a lift, cycle, or drive and park at their local station.  Headed - as I was the other week - from Melksham to Marlow, I walked to the local station first thing for a preplanned train.   But then I couldn't be precise as to my return time and whilst the connections from Swindon and beyond are hourly, there was a serious risk of being "stranded" at Swindon or Chippenham on the way back. I talk to lots of people who live in Melksham, but still drive to the station in either Chippenham or Westbury if going longer distance by train - giving the reason that they don't want to be stuck with a long wait for their final train on their journey home.. Put the service up to hourly, and you'll do wonders for transfer to our railway.

Quote
What I was thinking of was probably more your second one, since lack of ongoing bus connection (or no train connecting out of bus) is one of the gripes I have with the public transport network round here ...

I was actually thinking wider that just bus times.  Station that has just one entrance on the "wrong" side (I believe Weston-super-mare and Bridgwater are examples). Station where you get off and think "what now" - no taxis, perhaps no maps (Dilton Marsh?).  Stations where you get off with luggage and find yourself facing a flight of steps with your cycle or heavy luggage (Avoncliff).   Stations which have a platform exit straight onto a busy road, unlit and no footpath (Tygwyn).  Places where the bus timetable is not displayed or is out of date too.  Stations that are not easy to find unless you already know where they are (Marlow, Bishop Aukland West, Teeside Airport - which has other problems)
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grahame
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2021, 09:09:35 am »

Lack of ongoing connection is the lack of a train.   London to Melksham, on the first train off London in the morning, gets you to Chippenham at 06:31 but there isn't a train to Melksham until 08:59

Classic example this morning ... ongoing connections from Swindon on the A to Z display:


Made the worse this morning by other things in the survey ...
* Cancellation of the train that should have run at a quarter to nine followed up by ...
* Lack of customer advise to passengers for Melksham / Trowbridge / Westbury (even a "please enquire") would have helped, as I have seen on other A to Z type displays.
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