LONDON, January 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
Virgin Trains has once again topped the performance league among companies operating long-distance rail franchises.
The rail watchdog Passenger Focus carries out large-scale independent research across the industry twice a year. For the fifth successive survey, Virgin Trains was ranked top of long-distance franchised operators, with 89% of passengers 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with the overall service they received.
Virgin Trains leads the franchised long-distance operators in many categories - out of 33 categories judged by customers, Virgin Trains is ahead of its sector average in 27.
Virgin Trains significantly outscores average scores of long-distance operators in the following areas - frequency of trains; value for money; train cleanliness; ease of getting on/off trains; dealing with delays; and connections with other forms of public transport. In addition, customers have given a massive thumbs-up to a major investment programme in car parks, in partnership with the Department for Transport and Network Rail, with a 13 percentage point increase in satisfaction with car parking facilities
Virgin Trains' Chief Executive Officer, Tony Collins said: "We recently achieved record numbers of customers, with more than 30 million people travelling with us last year, double the number of six years ago. But the key to retaining those customers - and attracting more - is making sure they are satisfied. These figures show that we continue to lead in most areas of our business, by focussing on customer service and offering a service that is second to none among the long-distance franchise operators.
"However, we are certainly not complacent and there is still work to do to improve some scores. Satisfaction about punctuality has dipped, following a series of infrastructure problems during the summer and autumn and we have made clear to Network Rail that these need improvement."
The Office of Rail Regulation has issued Network Rail an enforcement notice to bring improvements in punctuality on long-distance services, including on Virgin Trains' services.
Notes to Editors
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Virgin Trains is the brand name of Virgin Rail Group (VRG), which is owned 51 percent by Virgin Group and 49 percent by Stagecoach. We have operated the West Coast passenger train franchise since 1997.
The current franchise was due to run until 31 March 2012, but the Department for Transport announced on 27 October 2011 that it would be extended until 8 December 2012. We have been short-listed for the new franchise that will start on 9 December 2012 and run until 31 March 2026, with an option to be extended by up to 20 months.
Virgin Trains has been recognised in numerous industry awards. In 2011 the company was named Best Rail Operator in the Group Leisure Awards (which we also won in 2009 and 2010). In 2011 Virgin Trains won the British Quality Foundation's Achievement Award for Customer Satisfaction. In 2010 we were named Best Rail Operator of the Year at the Travel Globe Awards (voted for by readers of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard. In 2009 we were voted Best UK Domestic Train Service by Business Traveller magazine for the second year running.
Virgin Trains first achieved Investors In People accreditation in 2007 and this was renewed in 2010; the IIP Gold award was achieved in 2011. In May 2011 Virgin Trains was awarded accreditation against the criteria of the European Foundation for Quality Management's (EFQM) Excellence Model. The company's Learning and Development team won a National Training Awards 2011 West Midlands award for its Coaching Culture programme.
SOURCE Virgin Trains