Grotty loos, extortionate fares and surly staff: Why taking the train is a strain

Last updated at 01:32 24 January 2008

Grotty loos and extortionate ticket prices are the biggest gripes of train passengers, a report by the rail watchdog revealed yesterday.

The other major irritants are surly - or unreachable - staff and poor parking provision, according to a survey of 28,000 people by Passenger Focus.

Its report found that four companies - First Great Western, First ScotRail, GNER and the Heathrow Express - saw their customer satisfaction rating drop "significantly" last year.

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First Great Western had the lowest score, with more than a quarter of its passengers reporting unhappiness with the service they received.

Yet the company, which also has one of the worst records for punctuality, increased its unregulated fares by 6.1 per cent earlier this year.

Some routes will see rises of nearly 10 per cent.

Passenger Focus said that all train companies should freeze their fares until standards improve.

Overall, a fifth of passengers surveyed were unhappy about their train journey - despite the fact that Britons pay the highest fares in Europe.

Other bugbears named in the report included poor station facilities and lack of luggage space.