More passengers should be involved in the rail surveys

Your letters to the newspaper
Your letters to the newspaper

From: Martin Woodfine, St Leonards & Hastings Rail Improvement, Ray Chapman, East Sussex Rail Alliance, Silverstone Court, St Leonards

There have been two recently-released National Passenger Surveys in respect of the railways. These are always welcome as a year-on-year comparison, but need to be treated with some caution. The larger report, by national passenger group Transport Focus (TF), was the result of 25,000 passenger responses from the entire UK network.

That needs to be taken into context, because both of our local operating companies – Southern and SouthEastern – carry in excess of 500,000 passengers per day.

The TF response data for each of these operators was 1,320 and 1,463 respectively across the whole of these two regional networks. Therefore the response on each line, for instance Hastings to Charing X, will be a very small ratio of the total daily passenger volume.

Consideration of how, where and when the data is collected is also unclear. It is our own experience from many years travelling on a regular basis that the chances of being given a questionnaire are very small.

The data is useful for giving the operators a rolling comparison of how they are doing compared with the previous year, but in the clear knowledge that the results are from a very small passenger feedback base.

There is a need for a higher concentration of passenger responses on a local basis.

We are confident the operators are aware of this.

Expanding the data-gathering will not be easy and we offer no immediate solutions. But we have a good relationship with Transport Focus and the operators; we will seek discussions as to if and how the regional user groups such as SHRIMP or East Sussex Rail Alliance can assist.