A survey released this morning by Passenger Focus, the independent transport user watchdog, shows the performance of Arriva Wales has declined markedly in the past year. Arriva Wales is the only train service through Ludlow and many of us rely on it.
The watchdog’s data record changes in satisfaction of users of the train service between Spring 2015 to Spring 2016. Nearly a thousand Arriva Wales customers were surveyed. They said their satisfaction:
- Overall, is down by 7%
- Punctuality and reliability, down by 10%
- Stations, down 2%
- The way the company deals with delays, down 7%.
Passenger Focus asks 36 questions of passengers. Arriva Wales only improved on two of these. Value for money went up by 1% and connections with other trains services by 4%. Everything other measure of satisfaction went downhill.
This is not an impressive track record. With its franchise to run rail services up for renewal in 2018, Arriva Wales must be very worried about whether it will be selected to run future services.
I don’t drive, so I travel on Arriva Wales a few times a week. Punctuality has become a problem of late. I am not surprised that one in ten passengers think that it has become worse over the last year. It’s frustrating when trains are late. Sometimes they can be five minutes late but the displays show them to be on time. I don’t think that should be allowed. On time should mean on time.
I have always found the staff on Arriva Wales friendly and helpful. So I am surprised that the proportion of people who think staff are helpful has fallen by 7%. Here in Ludlow, we have no Arriva Wales staff. Our station is independently run and the service is fantastic.
Arriva Wales customers are also very dissatisfied with the way that trains connect with other public transport. Satisfaction with this has dropped 13% in a year. Trains have never connected well with buses. It is getting a lot worse as bus services are cut back. This just encourages people to drive and that’s not good for the environment or our congested roads.
Ludlow Chamber of Commerce and our local green group, Ludlow 21, have been putting forward plans to improve the environment of Ludlow rail station. These will include new signs, and perhaps new planting and a real spruce up of the station. Ludlow in Bloom, led by Viv Parry, has already put new planters on the platforms.
Shropshire Council’s highways team are negotiating with Network Rail to create a clearly marked pedestrian path across the front of the car park. We also need to think about where the bus stop is located. It’s not a great place to wait for a bus at the moment.
We are working hard locally to improve the day-to-day experiences of passengers. It is clear that Arriva Wales will need to work even harder to improve customer satisfaction.