Two train companies which serve Hastings have finished in the bottom three of an annual satisfaction survey of 21 operators.
Consumer campaigners Which? scored train companies based on the responses of more than 7,300 train travellers when asked about their journeys over the last 12 months.
Customer scores were based on overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending that train company to a friend. Which? also asked people to rate how they felt about factors like reliability, punctuality, value for money and cleanliness.
Southern trains came joint 18th with 46 per cent for overall customer satisfaction. Southeastern came 20th with 44 per cent.
Last year Southern was rated in 13th place out of 19 with 46 per cent and Southeastern came in last with 40 per cent.
Southern was the worst for delays with four in 10 (39%) saying they were held up the last time they travelled, in contrast, C2C was the least delayed with around one in ten (14%) passengers reporting a delay on their last journey.
Which? found the best operator for letting passengers know their rights on delays was London Overground, who told four in ten (38%) customers when they were entitled to a full refund on their last journey. They were followed by South West Trains (33%), Southeastern (31%), First Great Western (27%) and lastly Southern, where only two in 10 (19%) of those entitled to claim compensation said they were informed about their rights on their last journey.
Thameslink & Great Northern/First Capital Connect scored the lowest on overall satisfaction with a score of 43%. All of the six lowest scoring train operators are also some of the biggest, covering commuter networks in the South East network around London. Five of these were also at the bottom of Which’s table in last year’s survey. None of these have scored above 50 per cent and all are rated poor value for money.
Thameslink & Great Northern/First Capital Connect, Southeastern, Southern, South West Trains and Northern also all scored lowly for the cleanliness of their toilets.
Grand Central topped the table with a score of 76% customer satisfaction score, the highest in the history of the survey.
Which stated that only a third of companies it reviewed had improved their place in the table from last year.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said: “Long delays and consistently low levels of customer service are driving commuters to distraction.
“Passengers often have little or no choice as to the rail companies they travel with, so as ticket prices continue to rocket, more must be done to improve customers’ satisfaction and to inform people of their right to a refund as a result of delays.”
A spokesman for Southern said: “We care about what passengers think of us and we know that because of performance problems, our service has been below the levels expected. Although the Which? survey findings on overall satisfaction are inconsistent with the Passengers Focus National Rail Passenger Survey which said that 77 per cent of our passengers are satisfied overall, irrespective of the survey, we know that the key to improving satisfaction is improving performance.
“The reasons for deterioration in our performance, particularly over the survey period are clearly understood - it relates to the impact of major development work on our route as well as other areas we can improve upon - and we have been working with Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to produce an industry improvement plan, which we’ve published and is available for download at www.southernrailway.com/improvementplan.
“Through this plan we have already started tackling some key issues affecting our network, including making some changes to the timetable to ease the pressure on the infrastructure at London Bridge.
“We will continue to work very hard on getting back to the normal levels of performance our passengers expect.”
A spokeswoman for Southeastern trains said: “We are disappointed with the scores published in the Which? report The survey took place in November 2014 and reflects a difficult autumn period for our passengers, during which their journeys were affected by a broken crossing at Lewisham and a number of signalling problems. These incidents saw our Public Performance Measure dip below 83 per cent.
“We understand that reliability, punctuality, availability of seating, cleanliness and overall value for money is extremely important to our customers.
“We are committed to improving performance through a robust new timetable introduced last month which has already seen punctuality improve. In March, we will start a deep cleaning programme of all our trains that will improve the travelling experience on Southeastern.
“We’re investing more than £70 million over the next three years in the areas that passengers tell us are most important to them. This investment will provide better information to our passengers, improve the condition of our trains, refresh our stations and provide extra staff to deliver more face-to-face customer service. Passengers will start to see the results of this investment over the next few months and we hope that this will be reflected in future passenger surveys.”
For the full which survey visit http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/leisure/reviews-ns/best-and-worst-uk-train-companies/best-train-companies-overall/