Train franchises operating in London and the south-east are less trusted by passengers than those serving other parts of the UK.
A survey by Passenger Focus found that rail companies needed to put more “effort into building long-term relationships with their passengers” as well as getting their basic service right.
The research, which measures passengers’ satisfaction with their rail journeys and service, found that London commuter services Southern and Southeastern were the “least trusted” rail franchise by passengers while Grand Central and Virgin Trains were the “most trusted”.
Generally the UK rail industry was viewed positively by consumers - achieving a similar rating to airlines and supermarkets, and ahead of the banking and energy sectors.
Passenger Focus’s chief executive Anthony Smith said: “There is much that train companies - and governments - can do to improve trust. It is important for train companies to get the basic service right ahead of everything else.
“Then building on closer relationships with their passengers is important. One way is through high-quality communication. Passengers should feel that train companies are ‘on their side. We believe these issues should become part of new franchises.”
The study found that passengers were dissatisfied with the high level of fares, delayed trains and overcrowded carriages. Passengers also criticised train companies for poor communication on issues such as ticketing options and incorrect information on delays and cancellations.
Passenger Focus added that train companies should strive to develop “good relationships” with their passengers.
“Communicating directly and proactively with passengers goes down well with them,” said the group in its report. “Communicating honestly, and with integrity and transparency can inspire trust.”