FCC is worst rail service, survey says

The Argus: First Capital Connect branded the worst rail service in the country First Capital Connect branded the worst rail service in the country

Customers have named the First Capital Connect (FCC) rail service as the worst in the country.

Just four in ten users said they were satisfied with the firm in a Which? survey.

Southern didn’t fare much better, with just 48% of passengers satisfied, making it seventh worst out of the 19.

Southeastern, which runs services from Hastings and St Leonards, was third worst in the country with a 43% satisfaction rating.

Virgin Trains achieved the best rating with 67% of users satisfied with its services.

But rail bosses at FCC and Southern questioned the accuracy of the statistics, claiming that 80% of their customers were satisfied.

Which? interviewed 7,000 rail users across the country.

Passengers were quizzed on everything from price and cleanliness to space and improvements.

One FCC passenger surveyed said: “The price has increased and the trains get more crowded. I never see any improvements for the extra money I am paying.”

Chris Barnard, 28, lives in Brighton and commutes each day to London.

Diabolical service

He said: “For the money I pay the service is diabolical.

“The journey home is the worst. I can be standing all the way, which after a long day at work is the last thing I need.”

FCC, which is run by First Group, made £110 million profit last year.

The company questioned the validity of the survey, saying just 461 of its 170,000 daily users were questioned.

General opinion

A spokesman said: “Our investment in the service is paying off with improved satisfaction with punctuality and journey times, the attitudes and helpfulness of our staff, the security of our services and the overall station |environment.”

A Southern spokesman said: “Having analysed the latest Passenger Focus survey, we know where our passengers have told us we need to improve, and we are focusing our efforts in these areas.”

David Sidebottom, from Passenger Focus, said: “The two surveys measure different things. Ours is very consumer-focused, asking passengers about their last journey.

“The Which? report is more of a general opinion survey about rail travel. Both are equally valid, they are just doing different things.”

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Comments (12)

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10:12am Tue 19 Feb 13

Fairfax Sakes says...

Thats all very interesting to report but it begs a simple question. "So what?"

The rail companies can't care, and I don't see anyone organising flash mobs by the pier to protest against train delays.

The truth is demand far outstrips supply, and consumers continue to see value from the service judging by the almost mediaeval standards of discomfort and inconvenience a daily commute to London offers.
So if you don't wish to, don't use it. That'll soon force the operators into action.
Otherwise pay up and jolly well be quiet.
Thats all very interesting to report but it begs a simple question. "So what?" The rail companies can't care, and I don't see anyone organising flash mobs by the pier to protest against train delays. The truth is demand far outstrips supply, and consumers continue to see value from the service judging by the almost mediaeval standards of discomfort and inconvenience a daily commute to London offers. So if you don't wish to, don't use it. That'll soon force the operators into action. Otherwise pay up and jolly well be quiet. Fairfax Sakes

10:25am Tue 19 Feb 13

clearbluesky says...

Shameful response from FCC. Their trains are filthy, break down regularly, either freezing cold or baking hot and rarely operate on time. To deny that they are failing completely no doubt means more misery for paying passengers.

I'm sure most of those 170,000 daily FCC commuters would agree that the FCC is not fit for purpose and sometimes verges on the inhumane. And I write this as a FCC commuter.
Shameful response from FCC. Their trains are filthy, break down regularly, either freezing cold or baking hot and rarely operate on time. To deny that they are failing completely no doubt means more misery for paying passengers. I'm sure most of those 170,000 daily FCC commuters would agree that the FCC is not fit for purpose and sometimes verges on the inhumane. And I write this as a FCC commuter. clearbluesky

10:34am Tue 19 Feb 13

Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit says...

FCC are shocking. Truly shocking. Their trains are uncomfortable even when you can get a seat, and it's best not to worry too much about the cleanliness. Still their group made 110 million profit last year and we don't have a choice so why should they care?

I'm going to stick up for Southern (a bit), because despite the fact the trains, especially in the evening rush hour, are often too short for punctuality they're not THAT bad, and when they are late more often than not it's because they've been held up by a slow-running FCC train blocking the line.
FCC are shocking. Truly shocking. Their trains are uncomfortable even when you can get a seat, and it's best not to worry too much about the cleanliness. Still their group made 110 million profit last year and we don't have a choice so why should they care? I'm going to stick up for Southern (a bit), because despite the fact the trains, especially in the evening rush hour, are often too short for punctuality they're not THAT bad, and when they are late more often than not it's because they've been held up by a slow-running FCC train blocking the line. Jimmy Stewart's Imaginary Rabbit

10:35am Tue 19 Feb 13

The Heretic says...

We're all relying on what's left of a 150-plus year old network without the enhancements that the economy of this new century absolutely demands of the railways. So, sometimes it falls over.... sometimes it simply doesn't have the capacity needed. What a surprise!

If Virgin Trains operated this route, their 'Customer Satisfaction' numbers would be as low as FCC's and Southern's. Train operating companies do just that... operate trains. The shortcomings regarding inadequate infrastructure lie squarely with the DfT's abysmal failure to fulfill it's strategic planning remit. It's also unreasonable to blame TOC's for regulated fare rises, that too lies within the DfT's purview.

Whilst it's equally unreasonable to single out any any one person to blame, it would of course help if a certain key minister at the DfT could get over his anti-Brighton bias, which isn't doing his own Lewes constituency any favours either.

Get BML2 built and it cures the capacity problems inherent in a network with no viable alternative route between London and Brighton or north-south across the Thames, both of which are needed urgently if the economy is to prosper.
We're all relying on what's left of a 150-plus year old network without the enhancements that the economy of this new century absolutely demands of the railways. So, sometimes it falls over.... sometimes it simply doesn't have the capacity needed. What a surprise! If Virgin Trains operated this route, their 'Customer Satisfaction' numbers would be as low as FCC's and Southern's. Train operating companies do just that... operate trains. The shortcomings regarding inadequate infrastructure lie squarely with the DfT's abysmal failure to fulfill it's strategic planning remit. It's also unreasonable to blame TOC's for regulated fare rises, that too lies within the DfT's purview. Whilst it's equally unreasonable to single out any any one person to blame, it would of course help if a certain key minister at the DfT could get over his anti-Brighton bias, which isn't doing his own Lewes constituency any favours either. Get BML2 built and it cures the capacity problems inherent in a network with no viable alternative route between London and Brighton or north-south across the Thames, both of which are needed urgently if the economy is to prosper. The Heretic

11:06am Tue 19 Feb 13

Plantpot says...

Based on a radio interview I heard yesterday with an independent source, the Which? survey is completely at odds with another one done by the govt., where passengers were questioned in significant numbers after they had just finished their journey. Satisfaction using this method of questioning ran at 85%. Which used a different methodology, got a different answer.....

Regardless, train cleanliness and quality of service has improved out of all recognition since the abolition of British Rail.

Railways are all about investment, and successive govts. over many years have failed to invest. The only way to improve things would mean building an infrastucture the equivalent of building a parallel network, which will never happen. Popular routes are overcrowded, and frankly, will be for many years to come if not forever. And when you complain about fares, remember, they are govt. driven, not rail co. driven. Thank your lucky stars they are tax payer subsidised as well.
Based on a radio interview I heard yesterday with an independent source, the Which? survey is completely at odds with another one done by the govt., where passengers were questioned in significant numbers after they had just finished their journey. Satisfaction using this method of questioning ran at 85%. Which used a different methodology, got a different answer..... Regardless, train cleanliness and quality of service has improved out of all recognition since the abolition of British Rail. Railways are all about investment, and successive govts. over many years have failed to invest. The only way to improve things would mean building an infrastucture the equivalent of building a parallel network, which will never happen. Popular routes are overcrowded, and frankly, will be for many years to come if not forever. And when you complain about fares, remember, they are govt. driven, not rail co. driven. Thank your lucky stars they are tax payer subsidised as well. Plantpot

12:22pm Tue 19 Feb 13

7Rookie says...

Shocking response (as per usual) from FCC. Rubbish service on slow uncomfortable trains is the norm, how they have kept the franchise is a mystery.
Shocking response (as per usual) from FCC. Rubbish service on slow uncomfortable trains is the norm, how they have kept the franchise is a mystery. 7Rookie

12:48pm Tue 19 Feb 13

Wiggsy says...

"The company questioned the validity of the survey, saying just 461 of its 170,000 daily users were questioned".

FCC trust me, had more passengers been questioned then the figure of 4 out of 10 passengers would most likely fall to 2 out of 10 being satisfied, so be thankful this survey reflects the company in such a positive light.
"The company questioned the validity of the survey, saying just 461 of its 170,000 daily users were questioned". FCC trust me, had more passengers been questioned then the figure of 4 out of 10 passengers would most likely fall to 2 out of 10 being satisfied, so be thankful this survey reflects the company in such a positive light. Wiggsy

2:06pm Tue 19 Feb 13

getThisCoalitionOut says...

Who sold off the trains - yes, right again it was the corrupt Conservatives and some idiots have voted them into power again - now they're trying to sell off the NHS to their corrupt friends and quite often themselves, as many of our MP's and our PM have financial involvement in the sell off - they are the most corrupt political party there is.
Who sold off the trains - yes, right again it was the corrupt Conservatives and some idiots have voted them into power again - now they're trying to sell off the NHS to their corrupt friends and quite often themselves, as many of our MP's and our PM have financial involvement in the sell off - they are the most corrupt political party there is. getThisCoalitionOut

2:17pm Tue 19 Feb 13

leach1527 says...

I am only an occasional rail user (Hassocks to Brighton and back once a week), but nearly every time I catch a FCC train from Hassocks it is either late, or, in the worst case, cancelled. Now either I am extremely unlucky, or, more likely, this is par for the course as far as the service is concerned.

However, when I catch the train back from Brighton it always seems to leave on time so it could be that some of their excuses (e.g. signalling faults) could be genuine infrastructure problems. But, I am sure that doesn't excuse them of all of their shortcomings, particularly the discomfort commuters have to suffer on a daily basis.
I am only an occasional rail user (Hassocks to Brighton and back once a week), but nearly every time I catch a FCC train from Hassocks it is either late, or, in the worst case, cancelled. Now either I am extremely unlucky, or, more likely, this is par for the course as far as the service is concerned. However, when I catch the train back from Brighton it always seems to leave on time so it could be that some of their excuses (e.g. signalling faults) could be genuine infrastructure problems. But, I am sure that doesn't excuse them of all of their shortcomings, particularly the discomfort commuters have to suffer on a daily basis. leach1527

2:32pm Tue 19 Feb 13

banargustrolls says...

Southern are appalling. No toilets on the coastal commute! Which has only three carriages with hundreds trying to squeeze on. They need to end privatisation of the network as the business end is doing what business does - concentrates purely on profit, not people.
Southern are appalling. No toilets on the coastal commute! Which has only three carriages with hundreds trying to squeeze on. They need to end privatisation of the network as the business end is doing what business does - concentrates purely on profit, not people. banargustrolls

5:36pm Tue 19 Feb 13

Plantpot says...

The independent source on the radio, who ran some form of railway publication made it quite clear that ticket prices and purchases of rolling stock remain govt. decisions, not those of the train co.'s. I suspect one of the issues with the railway is that in reality it's only part privatised and still too much under govt. control.
The independent source on the radio, who ran some form of railway publication made it quite clear that ticket prices and purchases of rolling stock remain govt. decisions, not those of the train co.'s. I suspect one of the issues with the railway is that in reality it's only part privatised and still too much under govt. control. Plantpot

6:25pm Tue 19 Feb 13

Alan G Skinner says...

Absolutely no suprise, they are a disgrace, they extort money from people. I purchase my ticket in good faith and for that I get a filthy, freezing cold,uncomfortable, overcrowded train that NEVER arrives at London Bridge at the scheduled time.... and that's a good day! Late running "services" and regular cancelations seem par for the course with FCC, their staff are not much better either. If you ask them a question, they inveriably don't know the answer and the are so rude an aggressive when checking Season tickets. "Take the ticket out of the wallet", "get your tickets out". This is where Southern are a lot better. Their guards are very polite and knowledgable and make regular and useful announcements.
Absolutely no suprise, they are a disgrace, they extort money from people. I purchase my ticket in good faith and for that I get a filthy, freezing cold,uncomfortable, overcrowded train that NEVER arrives at London Bridge at the scheduled time.... and that's a good day! Late running "services" and regular cancelations seem par for the course with FCC, their staff are not much better either. If you ask them a question, they inveriably don't know the answer and the are so rude an aggressive when checking Season tickets. "Take the ticket out of the wallet", "get your tickets out". This is where Southern are a lot better. Their guards are very polite and knowledgable and make regular and useful announcements. Alan G Skinner

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