CROWDED trains and ticket gripes must be tackled by ScotRail, consumer watchdog Which? said today as it published a dossier of travellers’ complaints.
It said Scotland’s main train operator should also streamline its complaints process, and “listen and respond to feedback”.
The call follows ScotRail receiving a 56 per cent satisfaction rating in the annual Which? train survey this year, which placed it seventh among 19 British train operators.
Aberdeen-based FirstGroup, which has run ScotRail for the last ten years, is battling four rivals for the next franchise, which starts next April, with the winner due to be announced in October.
The Which? dossier included a series of complaints about overcrowding, such as from a passenger called Susan, who said: “Our train only ever has two carriages even at peak times and you have no option but to stand in a overcrowded train.”
Other complaints included difficulties with buying tickets and shortage of luggage space.
However, Which? said 15 per cent of comments it received were positive about ScotRail, such as a passenger called Ian who said: “Excellent every time, staff were courteous and helpful, trains arrived and left on time, cleanliness was satisfactory, just.”
Which? said ScotRail should “listen and respond to feedback to improve service for passengers - specifically onboard experience, tickets and overcrowding.”
It said the firm should also enable passengers to make comments online, and complaints made via social media be recorded in the same way as others.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “Rail passengers have been telling us exactly how they feel about ScotRail and have identified some big areas for improvement.
“With the cost of train fares continuing to rise, we hope ScotRail listen to their passengers, make improvements quickly and start offering better value for money.”
The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, which is in charge of the franchise, has said that from next year fares will either be pegged at or one 1 per cent below RPI inflation.
ScotRail said the Which report confirmed many of its own findings.
Its spokeswoman said: “It is encouraging to note we are in the top half of the table, and we can already demonstrate
we have well-advanced plans to simplify online ticket purchase and integrate social media complaints with those made via traditional channels.
“We have led the way with the development of technology to make journeys easier for our customers, for example launching smartcards and apps to encourage ticket purchase prior to arrival at stations.”