Two of the region’s rail firms ranked last in satisfaction survey

Two rail companies that run services in Norfolk have been ranked bottom of a new league table measuring passenger satisfaction levels.

First Capital Connect and National Express East Anglia were both given an overall customer satisfaction rating of 78pc in the latest survey by rail customer watchdog Passenger Focus.

The national average for all rail companies across the country was 84pc, compared with 83pc in a similar survey last year.

Overall passenger satisfaction amongst East Midlands Trains users remained at 86pc, whilst satisfaction with services on the Norwich-Liverpool line increased to 92pc.

More than 32,000 passengers were surveyed this spring. The number of passengers satisfied with train punctuality and reliability has fallen from 82pc to 80pc and the proportion of passengers who believe their ticket represents value for money has also dipped from 48pc to 44pc, the latest National Passenger Survey showed.

Passenger Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: 'The rail industry needs to redouble efforts to make sure that poor performance is spotted, understood and addressed. Getting trains on time remains the key driver of passenger satisfaction.'

'These scores are a salutary reminder of just how much some passengers are paying to use the railway. The next three years will see passengers hit by above-inflation fare increases. This must be the end of the era of massive fare hikes. Passengers are paying more than their share. It is now up to the industry to reduce its costs.'

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The figures come as National Express is set to lose its Greater Anglia franchise in February when a new company takes over.

Three firms - Abellio Greater Anglia, Eastern Railway and Stagecoach Anglia Trains - have been shortlisted for the short-term franchise and the government wants the new operator to boost passenger satisfaction and improve services.

But Andrew Chivers, managing director of National Express East Anglia, said the company was making improvements and was introducing an extra 4,000 seats on peak-time mainline services into London.

'We are determined to improve customer satisfaction and we're continuing to invest in new trains, more carriages and station upgrades. We are also continuing to enhance information provision to our customers and invest in e-ticketing as part of our focus in meeting their expectations for service improvement,' he said.

A spokesman for First Capital Connect, which runs services between King's Lynn and London Kings Cross, said: 'We must continue to work to improve in all areas of the National Passenger Survey - particularly punctuality of services, customer information and train cleanliness. Overall satisfaction has improved by 2pc and we have seen increased satisfaction in 18 categories, decreases in eight categories and no change in five categories.'

David Horne, commercial and customer service director for East Midlands Trains, said he was happy to see satisfaction so high amongst passengers of the Norwich-Liverpool line.

'It's really pleasing that this route, which had historically suffered from a lack of investment and resources prior to the start of the East Midlands Trains' franchise, has seen such a boost in passenger satisfaction,' he said.