Next East Midlands rail operator urged to pay attention to passenger needs
- Credit: Archant copyright 2011
Passengers using the East Midlands rail service want more seats to handle overcrowding at peak times, free Wi-Fi, additional evening and Sunday services and modern trains.
These were some of the findings of research conducted by Transport Focus, an independent transport user watchdog.
The organisation published the results from research on what East Midlands rail passengers want from the next operator, which is expected to start running the franchise from August 2019.
East Midlands trains run from Norwich to Liverpool via Ely, Peterborough, Grantham, Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester.
The research found that the current East Midlands franchise largely delivers on passengers' basic needs - a dependable and reliable service representing value for money on local journeys compared to the cost of driving or taking the bus.
However, passengers making longer journeys have mixed experiences, with some fares seen as expensive.
In a statement, Transport Focus said: 'Our research shows passengers rate staff on the network highly, finding them friendly and helpful at the station and on the train.
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'However, there are issues around the dated feel of trains, with basic facilities, and the inconsistent quality of stations across the network.
'Passengers' concerns around personal security at stations and on trains must also be addressed.'
Priorities for the next franchise include more seats, additional services, modern trains, free on-board Wi-Fi, power sockets and improvements to catering.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said East Midlands trains delivered the basics well.
'Passengers have seen what other train companies provide, which has raised their expectations. They want more modern trains, with free Wi-Fi and power sockets as standard, and improvements to catering and toilet facilities on the train.' Mr Smith said the next operator must seize the opportunity to provide an outstanding journey for rail passengers in the East Midlands.
The most recent National Rail Passenger Survey found that 51pc of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of their ticket; 29pc with the availability of Wi-Fi and 43pc with the availability of power sockets.