Here are the UK's most complained about train companies as rate of rail complaints rises 7.5 per cent for 2016-17

Rebecca Smith
Have certain train firms gone off track when it comes to customer service?
Have certain train firms gone off track when it comes to customer service? (Source: Getty)

The rate of rail passenger complaints rose 7.5 per cent last year to 540,000, driven by train operating firms in London and the South East, according to the latest stats from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

Operators with the biggest increase in complaints rate all operated in London and the South East, accounting for nearly half of all complaints in 2016-17, compared to 32 per cent in 2015-16.

Read more: Government delays report on Southern rail troubles until after the election

Here are the train companies with the most complaints for 2016-17:

Train company Number of complaints per 100,000 passenger journeys
1. Virgin Trains West Coast 154
2. Virgin Trains East Coast 109
3. Caledonian Sleeper 75
4. Greater Anglia 59
5. CrossCountry 55
6. Arriva Trains Wales 52
7. East Midlands Trains 49
8. TransPennine Express 38
9. London Midland 36
10. c2c 32
11. Chiltern Railways 31
12. Great Western Railway 30
13. Govia Thameslink Railway 29
14. Southeastern 26
15. ScotRail 24

And here are the train companies which had the biggest rise in their complaint rate:

Train company Percentage change on 2015-16
1. Govia Thameslink Railway 218
2. South West Trains 50
3. Southeastern 37
4. c2c 20
5. Greater Anglia 20
6. Grand Central 12
7. CrossCountry 10
8. London Midland 10

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the parent company of Southern rail which has been beset by long-running industrial disputes, recorded a significant rise, with its complaint rate up 218 per cent on 2015-16.

It noted 29 complaints per 100,000 customers, while Virgin Trains West Coast and Virgin Trains East Coast had the highest rates of 154 and 109. Both of those had improved though, with complaints down 15 per cent and 32 per cent respectively.

A quarter of complaints on GTR related to punctuality, while just over one in five were regarding delay compensation schemes.

A GTR spokesperson said: "While we continue to modernise and future-proof the busiest part of the UK's network, our passengers are starting to see performance improve with punctuality figures climbing for the sixth month in a row and complaints now at a 12-month low.

"Any complaint is a concern and we use this feedback to improve our customer service. Complaints undoubtedly rose because of industrial action but these numbers are still the eighth lowest in the UK for train companies and, put into context, represent just 16 additional complaints per 100,000 journeys."

The overall rate of rail passenger complaints rose by 7.5 per cent, the ORR said in its 2016-2017 fourth quarter release.

Overall, the complaint level was still fairly low, as there were 29.4 complaints per 100,000 journeys for franchised operators, though the ORR said this still represented 540,000 rail passenger complaints in 2016/17, both franchised and non-franchised.

In comparison, last year had the lowest complaints per 100,000 journeys in the time series.

Punctuality and the reliability of services came up top in the reasons for people's grievances, and the ORR said the punctuality of trains was the lowest since 2005-06.

Additionally, passenger satisfaction with the reliability of trains dropped from 78 per cent in autumn 2015 to 73 per cent in the same time last year.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators and Network Rail, said:

We know that the last year has been difficult for passengers on some parts of the railway, and the figures reflect that, but on other parts rail companies working together have raised punctuality to record highs.

The long-term trend is of falling complaints from customers and our £50bn-plus upgrade plan is making journeys better.

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