Spike in complaints by Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express passengers

Complaints about train operators Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express soared as performance deteriorated, new figures have shown.

Office of Rail and Road (ORR) data revealed that 238.6 complaints were made per 100,000 journeys on Avanti West Coast between July and September last year, up 51.3% from a year earlier.

TransPennine Express saw an even larger percentage increase, up 65.4% to 76.9 complaints per 100,000 journeys.

Both operators’ services were hit by widespread delays and cancellations over that period, partly due to a sharp decline in the number of drivers voluntarily working on rest days for extra pay.

The proportion of trains that arrived at stations within one minute of the schedule between July and September fell year-on-year by 17.0% for Avanti West Coast and 10.2% for TransPennine Express.

The companies reduced their timetables to reduce short-notice cancellations.

Across all train companies in Britain the rate of complaints between July and September was 24.0 per 100,000 journeys.

That was down from 29.3 a year earlier.

The total number of complaints for the quarter reached 86,385.

This was a rise of 18.8% from the same three months in 2021, coinciding with a 44.9% increase in journeys.

An Avanti West Coast spokesman said: “We know that last summer our customers were not getting the service they deserved and these figures reflect an extremely challenging time.

“We are sorry for the enormous amount of frustration and inconvenience this caused and we’re grateful for the patience our passengers have shown.

“Over the last few months, our sole focus has been to do everything we can to return to a more resilient operation which delivers more services for our customers and communities.

“Our new timetable introduced in December has greatly increased the number of services we run and customers are now seeing the benefits of that, with more trains, greater connectivity and tickets on sale much earlier.”

A spokeswoman for TransPennine Express said: “It is always disappointing to hear or read that any of our customers experience circumstances which lead to a complaint, but we accept that the service we have provided recently has fallen well short of what our customers expect and deserve and we are sorry for the disruption to journeys.

“The period covered by the ORR data was particularly difficult as we were experiencing ongoing disruption caused by sickness and the driver training backlog, as well as localised strike action by RMT members prior to the national dispute.”