City Trains Compared

Australian rail passengers review city trains in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth on their service reliability, scheduling, comfort, safety, cleanliness, ticketing, cost & overall satisfaction.

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Most Satisfied Customers | Transperth

Transperth was rated the best Australian metropolitan commuter rail network in Canstar Blue’s review of city trains − for the seventh year in a row! It received five stars for all categories, including reliability, scheduling, comfort, safety, cleanliness, ticketing, cost and overall satisfaction.

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Perth rail passengers most satisfied for seven years in a row

Whether you take the train to school, work, or just for leisure, Australians expect their metropolitan rail networks to operate reliably and efficiently. But we don’t live in a perfect world and very few rail networks across the globe could come even close to claiming a perfect service. Australia is no different, but Canstar Blue’s passenger ratings over the years have highlighted a gulf in satisfaction between those who use the country’s five major metropolitan train networks.

Based on more than 3,000 responses – from adults that have used a metropolitan train service in the last six months – city trains were rated in the following order for overall satisfaction:

  1. Transperth
  2. Adelaide Metro
  3. Queensland Rail and Translink
  4. Sydney Trains
  5. Metro Trains Melbourne

It is the seventh year in succession that Perth’s rail service was rated highest overall. No other network has ever finished higher in Canstar Blue’s research, although Adelaide Metro did rate best for cost in our 2021 city trains review. Full details are below.

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City trains: what matters most

What to consider when choosing best train

In addition to rating the five city train networks on customer satisfaction, the survey also reveals the main ‘drivers’ of passenger satisfaction. Analysis of our research found trip comfort was the most influential factor (16%) in determining the satisfaction of Australian rail passengers, followed by:

  • Cost (ticket prices): 15%
  • Reliability: 15%
  • Cleanliness of trains and train stations: 15%
  • Timetable/scheduling: 14%
  • Ticketing system: 13%
  • Safety (at stations and on trains): 12%

Of course, all factors are important in their own way, and the importance of these variables is likely to be impacted by the type of rail passenger (ie. daily commuter vs. weekend traveller).

Service reliability

Our survey found fewer Aussies experienced delays when catching the train in the last two years, with the figure dropping from 39% in 2019 to 20% in 2021. Regular delays were mainly reported by passengers of Sydney Trains (20%) and Metro Trains Melbourne (20%), followed by Queensland Rail and Translink (10%), Adelaide Metro (10%) and Transperth (10%).

Although half of the respondents saw punctuality (51%) as a strength of their train network. Those who use Transperth were the most likely to be satisfied, with around five out of seven (72%) passengers stating their trains usually turn up on time. Adelaide Metro (62%) was seen as the next most punctual, ahead of Queensland Rail and Translink (56%), Sydney Trains (45%) and Metro Trains Melbourne (42%).

Timetable/scheduling

Train timetable

One in five Aussies nationwide (20%) said they catch the train to work most days. This was especially the case for respondents in New South Wales (20%) and Victoria (20%), compared to Queensland (10%), South Australia (10%) and Western Australia (10%).

Across the country, a similar number of passengers who praised their rail network for punctuality also saw scheduling as a positive aspect (54%) of their experience. Respondents who travelled by Transperth (69%), Adelaide Metro (57%) and Queensland Rail and Translink (56%) were the least likely to complain about timetables being a major issue, followed by Sydney Trains (52%) and Metro Trains Melbourne (48%).

Cost (ticket prices)

The cost of travel is naturally a bugbear for many rail passengers, but some more than others. Passengers of Adelaide Metro (50%) and Transperth (50%) were the most satisfied with cost, with half of these respondents claiming their rail network offers a good price. Those who use Queensland Rail and Translink (43%) were the next most happy with their ticket prices, followed by Sydney Trains (40%) and Metro Trains Melbourne (37%).

Trip comfort

Most comfortable train

With ill passengers (i.e. coughing and sneezing) being one of the top frustrations among travellers, and 28% of respondents taking the train less frequently due to fear of contracting COVID-19, it’s worth mentioning that almost half (46%) of our survey respondents said they try to keep their distance from other passengers while on the train. A third (34%) of people also claim they always wear a face mask.

Passengers of Sydney Trains (30%) and Metro Trains Melbourne (30%) were the most likely to experience overcrowding, followed by Queensland Rail and Translink (20%), Adelaide Metro (20%) and Transperth (20%),

Safety (at stations and on trains)

The survey found that a majority of passengers generally feel safe catching the train during the day (60%), but this changes significantly when it comes to travelling at night (30%). Passengers of Queensland Rail (70%) and Transperth (70%) were most likely to report feeling safe during the day, followed by Sydney Trains (60%), Metro Trains Melbourne (60%) and Adelaide Metro (60%).

When it comes to travelling on the train at night, those who use Queensland Rail and Translink (30%) were most likely to feel safe, on par with Sydney Trains (30%), Adelaide Metro (30%) and Transperth (30%), and ahead of Metro Trains Melbourne (20%).

Passengers of Metro Trains in Melbourne (30%) and Transperth (30%) were most likely to say they often witness anti-social behaviour on the trains, followed by Queensland Rail and Translink (20%), Sydney Trains (20%) and Adelaide Metro (20%).

Metro Trains (Melbourne) passengers – along with those who use Adelaide Metro and Transperth – were also most likely to say that they would like to see extra security staff or police on the trains (40%), ahead of Queensland Rail and Translink (30%) and Sydney Trains (30%).

Train/station cleanliness

Almost half (46%) of survey respondents across the country described the cleanliness of their trains and stations as a strength of their network. Transperth (61%) and Queensland Rail & Translink (51%) had the most satisfied passengers, followed by Sydney Trains (46%), Adelaide Metro (45%) and Metro Trains Melbourne (36%).

Travelling pet hates

It’s worth noting that COVID-19 has resulted in people taking the train less frequently:

  • 28% travel less due to fear of contracting COVID-19
  • 24% travel less due to working from home
  • 26% travel during off-peak times to avoid larger crowds

Survey respondents were also asked about their ‘pet hates’ of train travel. The most common complaints were:

  • Other passengers being rude or aggressive: 50%
  • Sick people (i.e. coughing, sneezing): 50%
  • People having loud personal conversations (including on the phone): 50%
  • Other people standing too close: 40%
  • Smelly passengers: 40%
  • Children being loud or misbehaving: 40%
  • People playing music loudly: 40%
  • People taking up too much space (with laptops, newspapers): 30%
  • Young people not giving up seats for older passengers: 30%
  • Other passengers trying to make conversation: 20%

This year’s city train ratings are based on the responses of 3,071 people who have caught a metropolitan train in the last six months. Survey outcomes are based on the responses of 3,379 people. This includes the 1,152 people who have used Sydney Trains, 968 people who have used Metro Trains Melbourne, 565 who have used Queensland Rail and Translink, 432 who have used Transperth and 222 people who have used Adelaide Metro.

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.

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Frequently asked questions

Canstar Blue surveyed more than 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have used a metropolitan train service in Australia in the last six months – in this case, 3,071 people.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

2019

Best trains 2019

2016Best trains 2016

2015Best trains 2015

2014Best trains 2014

2011Best trains 2011

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