Luton commuters say Thameslink's VFM is just not the ticket
Train operator in bottom three for satisfaction with peak-time fares
Luton commuters gave Thameslink a lowly 26 per cent VFM rating in the latest National Rail Passenger Survey.
Pressure group Transport Focus delivered their quarterly performance review for all the UK's 24 train operating companies and only two were worse than the figure for Thameslink's rush-hour travellers when it comes to delivering value for money on fares from stations through Bedfordshire.
Yet the company is points out prices and annual increases are regulated and approved by the Government and the terms of Thameslink's franchise means they get none of the cash from ticket sales.
Overall, Thameslink's VFM was just below average at 42 per cent. It scored a healthy 82 per cent rating in terms of overall customer satisfaction, up four per cent from the previous quarter, with numbers also on the rise when it came to punctuality and reliability and stations.
And the company's managing director Tom Moran admits things are much improved from the problems caused by a new timetable in May 2018 table when delays and cancellations cost parent company Govia a £5million fine.
Mr Moran said: "We recognise our customers want better value for money. As, under the terms of our franchise, we don’t approve our ticket prices or keep the income, our focus is on providing the best possible service for everyone who travels on Thameslink.
"Looking at the overall picture, this is an encouraging set of results, which shows we are heading in the right direction. Passengers are responding positively to our new trains, extra services and roll-out of smart ticketing.
"However, we have much more to do, particularly in our drive to reduce delays, and we’ll continue to work closely with Network Rail to address problems with the signalling, power and track. We are also now working on a multi-million pound investment programme to improve every one of our stations."
An off-peak return ticket to London from Luton is £16.80 after 9.30am but rush-hour travellers have to fork out £30.70 for the same ride. Season tickets are considerably cheaper can take the average journey price down to £9.54 over 12 months.
Just 21 per cent of South West Trains commuters rated their tickets good value for money while Southeastern's figure was 24 per cent in the National Rail survey.
A spokesman for Transport Focus said: "These statistics come from commuters only but clearly these three lowest performers need to add value to the service they provide to improve passenger satisfaction."