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Railways Consumer watchdog survey says passengers prefer trains with guards

PASSENGERS have ranked rail operators with guards on every train as the best in Britain.

In watchdog Transport Focus’s annual passenger survey, which was published this week, four of the five top train companies in the overall satisfaction rankings were intercity operators employing a second operationally skilled staff member on every service.

Grand Central (96 per cent satisfaction), Hull Trains (95 per cent), Virgin Trains East Coast (92 per cent) and Virgin Trains (91 per cent) all have guards on trains, while fifth-placed Heathrow Express has a ticket inspector on every route.

Three of the bottom six operators use driver-only operation, including Southern, which once again finished last with just 72 per cent satisfaction.

Rail union RMT, which has been resisting the expansion of driver-only trains with strikes on a number of key routes, said there was “clear evidence that passengers support having guards on their trains.”

General secretary Mick Cash said: “Drilling down into these figures, where Southern remain bottom of the pile nearly two years after they first took aim at their guards, the reality of putting profits before safety is laid bare.”

The survey also found that just 33 per cent of commuters think their rail service provides value for money. The fieldwork was carried out in the autumn before the biggest fare rise in five years, which came in the new year.

Only three out of 10 passengers are satisfied with how train companies deal with delays and 57 per cent are content with the level of crowding.

Rail Delivery Group boss Jacqueline Starr said private rail companies were “working together with a long term plan to change and improve.”

Labour shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald charged, however, that passengers were “paying over the odds, often for substandard services.”



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