New figures out today show that overall passenger satisfaction on Network Rail’s Western route has improved by four percentage points since last year, making Western the top scoring route in the country with a passenger satisfaction score of 86%.

The survey, carried out by independent watchdog Transport Focus, asked around 30,000 passengers nationally for their views on the railway.

Reading was the top scoring managed station in the UK with a passenger satisfaction score of 94%, up five percentage points from last year. The station has seen a number of recent improvements which may have boosted its score, including increased seating provision and more information available about the estimated arrival times of trains on the screens.

The managed station across the route – London Paddington, Reading and Bristol Temple Meads, now all provide free drinking water fountains for passengers, with the charge for the use of toilets at London Paddington having been scrapped last year.

The results reflect the unprecedented investment on the route over the past five years, with trains now running under electric power to Newbury, Chippenham and Bristol Parkway. The introduction of GWR’s new electric trains alongside infrastructure improvements such as signalling upgrades have improved the reliability and resilience of the railway, which is reflected in the survey results, showing high passenger satisfaction scores for punctuality and the frequency of trains on the route.

Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s route managing director for Western said: “These results have been achieved through lots of hard work and dedication. The increased scores mean that passengers are noticing improvements in train performance and travel experience as a result of the biggest upgrade on the Western route since the railway was built.

“Reading’s ranking as the top scoring managed station is a fantastic achievement and a testament to the dedication of the station team. We will continue to work hard to ensure that Reading remains as the number one top scoring station and remain committed to putting passengers first and delivering the highest levels of service and satisfaction.”

Mark Hopwood, GWR managing director said: “We have promised the biggest upgrade in a generation on the Great Western route; and in the last two years we have been working hard to deliver just that – with new fleets of trains, more staff, and more modern and improved track infrastructure.

“I am delighted that this hard work is starting to pay off. Not only are our customers enjoying the benefit the new trains are bringing, but their experience has become the norm, reflected today in our best ever overall satisfaction scores.

“The work doesn’t end there. In December this year we will launch a new timetable and the biggest change on our network in 40 years, making the most of our new fleets to bring even more frequent services, offering more seats and quicker journeys.” 

Since the field work for the National Rail Passenger Survey was carried out in February and March, train performance on the route has continued to improve.

Although the results of the survey are encouraging, there is still a lot more that can be done to make the railway more reliable and better for everyone that uses this vital public service. As part of a commitment to continuous improvement and putting passengers first, upgrades to the Network Rail managed stations on the Western route include improvements to the toilet facilities at London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads, where there are plans to reopen the toilets on platform 9. The provision of expected arrival time information on the screens at Reading has proved a success, with plans to roll this out at Bristol Temple Meads later in the year.