Friday, 24 June 2011

The UK - Leading European Rail Network?

It's not April Fools Day. Nor have I started on the sherry as it's Friday lunchtime.
But how about this for a startling headline in this month's Passenger Transport magazine - "Britain's Train Operating Companies win the Eurovision rail contest".
The report states that "a comparison with France and Germany finds that the UK's rail users were the most satisfied on 15 of the 19 criteria".
The European Commission report asked 400 users in each of the 27 EU states to rate their satisfaction with the 19 different criteria.
Not the in-depth analysis that is Passenger Focus's National Passenger Survey, but nonetheless, it's a start. Indeed it was Passenger Focus that lobbied the EU to do this work in the first place.
Other nuggets of information include 86.8% of UK users satisfied with punctuality & reliability compared to just 54.0% in France and 52.3% in Germany. We also came top (perhaps surprisingly) in "Ease of buying tickets" - UK 86.8%, France 84.4%, Germany down on 53.5% and the EU 27 states as a whole on 78.7%.
As columnist George Muir states, there are issues of interpretation, but this is telling us something important.
The UK's railways aren't perfect, and as McNulty states, they ain't cheap either. But what this piece of research tells us is that, across Europe, we should do more research, more in depth (as Passenger Focus do) to give us a clearer picture of what passengers really think.
And we should also acknowledge that, despite the many imperfections, the UK's rail network isn't always the basket case that the media would often have us believe.

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