We’re getting better, say First Capital Connect train bosses

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IMPROVED performance figures welcomed by train company First Capital Connect (FCC) do not disguise the fact that there is still more to do, according to their managing director.

Latest results of a survey by industry rail watchdog Passenger Focus show that overall satisfaction with FCC services has grown for the third year in a row.

FCC runs the Thameslink line used by many commuters from St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett as well as services through Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City into King’s Cross.

Of those customers surveyed in autumn 2012, 81 per cent said they were satisfied or very satisfied – a one per cent increase year on year, which is in line with the national increase – and 13 per cent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. In autumn 2009 the satisfaction level stood at 75 per cent.

Six per cent of respondents expressed dissatisfaction.

First Capital Connect managing director Neal Lawson said: “We are pleased to have registered improvements in autumn passenger satisfaction for the third year running. In particular, investment is paying off in satisfaction with punctuality and journey times, the attitudes and helpfulness of our staff, the security of our services and the overall station environment.

“However, we recognise we have more to do, particularly in the area of dealing with delays.

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“Only yesterday we launched a new free bespoke text and email service telling customers about rail disruption.

“We have retained our successful customer support centre opened for the Olympics and our Twitter service now operates around the clock offering one-to-one journey advice.”

He went on: “The lack of room to sit or stand is also an issue for our customers despite the addition of 22 per cent and 29 per cent more seats on each of our two routes during this franchise.

“This demonstrates the importance of the capacity-boosting Thameslink Programme, the final phase of which will double peak time capacity in central London from 2018.”

FCC registered improvements year-on-year in 23 of the 34 individual scores that made up its overall result. Eight stayed the same and three fell.

Punctuality and journey time satisfaction scores on the Thameslink line were up four per cent to 87 per cent which is thought to reflect the reopening of the central London section of the Bedford to Brighton/Wimbledon Thameslink route at night and weekends in May 2012 after 3.5 years of sustained engineering work.

Another improvement was in satisfaction with the attitudes and helpfulness of staff which rose four points to 71 per cent and the cleanliness of stations that increased five points to 75 per cent. Satisfaction with the overall station environment went up by six points to 71 per cent.

Passengers’ satisfaction with personal security went up seven points to 72 per cent which FCC puts down to it funding of extra British Transport Police and 1,500 new CCTV cameras which have together earned all 73 stations ‘Secure Station’ accreditation. and cut reported crime by 41 per cent in the past five years.

But only 61 per cent of people said there was enough room to sit or stand despite FCC having added 22 per cent and 29 per cent more seats on its two routes during the franchise.

There was no change in satisfaction with how well FCC deals with delays which remains low at 33 per cent.