Department for Transport
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Survey released on public experiences of and attitudes towards rail travel

The Department for Transport yesterday published a new Official Statistics Opinions Survey on public experiences of and attitudes towards rail travel. A similar study was last carried out by the Office for National Statistics in 2006.

Welcoming publication of the figures, Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said:

"With more than half of adults saying they travelled by train in the past year and with over 90% of passengers finding their expectations met or exceeded, it is clear that rail is becoming increasingly popular.

"However, now is not the time to be complacent. This survey also shows us where people think there is room for improvement. The Government will continue to work with the rail industry to ensure that everyone's experience of the railways continues to improve."

Key findings of the survey, which is designed to improve understanding of the public's attitudes towards rail services, include:

-  More than half (55%) of people surveyed had travelled by rail in the past year, up from 49% in 2006. Of them, 22% had made both short and long distance journeys (up from 18% in 2006); 22% had only made short distance journeys (the same as 2006) while 8% only made longer distance rail journeys (up from 7% in 2006).

-  Respondents were positive overall about rail services. 71% of respondents rated short distance services as good (up from 63% in 2006) and 12% as poor (down from 17% in 2006). For long distance services, 67% of respondents ranked services as good (up from 62% in 2006) and 12% as poor (down from 14% in 2006).

-  Rail users were generally more positive about the railways than non-users. 78% of users rated short distance services as good (up from 70% in 2006) compared with 62% of non-users (up from 56% in 2006). For long distance services, 76% of users thought services were good (up from 68% in 2006) compared with 60% for non-users (up from 56% in 2006).

-  A little over a fifth (21%) of short distance rail users felt their recent experiences of the service were better than expected and 73% felt that their expectations were met. This remains relatively unchanged from 2006 when the figures were 20% and 72% respectively.

-  People rated short distance services most highly for: number of destinations (72% of respondents rated this aspect as 'good'); politeness and helpfulness of staff (72%); information about train times (72%); frequency of trains (70%) and reliability/punctuality of services (68%). The aspects of the services least likely to be rated as good were cost of fares (18%) and ease of parking at stations (38%).

-  People said that the main factors stopping them using trains or using them infrequently were: the perceived convenience of travelling by car, the cost of rail fares and the location of stations. The most common factor mentioned as likely to increase use of short distance train services by non/infrequent users was a reduction in the cost of fares. Other factors mentioned were the better location of stations and improved frequency, reliability and speed of services.

-  Getting to and from the station, 54% of short distance rail users rated the current public transport links to and from stations as ‘good’, whereas 23% said they were ‘poor’. 38% of all respondents rated the ease of parking their vehicle at a railway station car park as ‘good’, whilst 46% mentioned this aspect was 'poor'.

-  On ticket types, 41% of all respondents thought there were too few (9%) or too many (32%) train ticket types. 42% of respondents believed the number was about right, but only 12% of all respondents said they were aware that the train fare structure was simplified in 2008.

Notes to editors

1.      For the 2009 survey the ONS surveyed 1,092 adults aged 16 and over in March 2009. The response rate was 61%. The full survey is available on the Department for Transport website at:

2. For the 2006 survey, the ONS surveyed 1,254 adults aged 16 and over in February 2006. The response rate was 67%. The full survey is available on the Department for Transport website at:

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