You send us thousands of completed surveys every month through our ‘Voice of the Customer’ programme. These surveys tell us what you think about both our overall service and about specific parts of the journey, including:
- ticket & journey research,
- ticket purchase,
- train journeys, and
- service delays.
The experience scores and comments are then sent out to the relevant company departments and teams within them, such as our station regional managers and on train service depot managers. This allows our first-line managers to view and read your feedback on a regular basis.
Our first-line managers see your satisfaction scores and read your comments.
Why use surveys rather than customer comments and complaints?
Surveys are more useful to us because you can rate our services. It helps us understand what's important to you. Plus, they're quicker to fill in and let you tell us more about your journey.
What is the feedback telling us?
We know that, first and foremost, our trains being on time is the most important thing to you. It's why we supported the commissioning of an independent review into our performance, and it remains our number one priority. But there's more to running a railway than just punctuality. You also told us that:
- frequency and duration of services,
- availability of seating,
- cleanliness and upkeep of our trains & stations, and
- honest, useful and timely service information
are all important to you. Here we'll regularly show you the ways we're improving your experience based on your feedback.
Improving the punctuality of our trains
From in-depth analysis of your survey responses it came as no surprise that your satisfaction with the punctuality of your services is by far the most important aspect of your overall experience.
Here are some of the things you told us about service punctuality:
‘Please run the service to time. That’s all I ask.'
‘Trains to Waterloo are constantly late. It means I have to choose an earlier train every day.’
‘Travelling into and out of London has become increasingly more stressful, due to the constant delays.’
Because of the importance of service punctuality to you, we naturally spend a considerable amount of finance, time and energy to improve it. This is part of our normal work however, due to continually deteriorating service punctuality in recent years, new initiatives to improve have commenced.
So what are we doing to improve?
As noted by Sir Michael Holden in his review undertaken last year, there will be no one silver bullet to fix what is a long-term decline in punctuality on our network. We also know that only in collaboration with our partners at Network Rail can we truly improve service punctuality.
Waterloo flexible platform selection
During the morning peak, there is roughly a train every 3 minutes coming into Waterloo on the suburban line. In the past we would often wait for the scheduled platform to become free before directing trains into them. We have begun trialling a process where instead of waiting for the schedule platform, we instead direct suburban trains into the next available platform. This means our trains are arriving at Waterloo earlier than usual and reducing the length of the queue of trains coming into Waterloo.
Merging country and outer-suburban trains onto one line later
For services travelling to Waterloo on our mainline, we have two lines which merge into one just prior to New Malden. In the past we would merge these two lines earlier. This would cause a knock-on effect where during the busy times, a queue would begin to form at the merge point and cause delays. We are now choosing to merge these lines later which is reducing the instances of queuing. This has reduced the delays to these services and improved punctuality of services arriving at Waterloo.
An issue that often causes delays is when customers fall ill on board our trains. Customers can become ill when using our trains and when this unfortunately happens has the potential to cause delays on the wider network. To assist our customers and prevent delays we have employed teams of paramedics at 3 of our busiest central London stations during the morning peak. This initiative has not only assisted our customers when they have been feeling ill, they have also prevented delay incidents before they become more significant, and when they have, reduced the impact that these instances have on our services and the wider SWR network.
Joint Performance Improvement Centre
We are working with Network Rail more closely than ever with the creation of the Joint Performance Improvement Centre at Waterloo. This centre acts as the focal point of performance improvement discussions between the two organisations. Each week the executive groups meet to discuss performance results from the previous week and take decisive action to address emerging issues on our network.
The centre oversees several performance improvement programmes, each of which have been initiated to focus on a specific process or location which impacts our service performance. Each of these programmes is chaired by a Director and is comprised of content experts from both organisations to find solutions to problems which may only be solved collaboratively.