City Trains Compared

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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

Maintaining its 100% record, TransPerth has been rated the best Australian metropolitan rail network for the sixth year in a row.

Perth rail passengers remain most satisfied

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. Nearly two and a half years on from our last review, we have once again taken a snapshot of Australia’s satisfaction – or dissatisfaction – with their city trains. This is what we found.

Based on more than 4,400 survey 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:

  • 1st TransPerth
  • 2nd Adelaide Metro
  • 3rd Queensland Rail
  • 4th Sydney Trains
  • 5th Metro Trains (Melbourne)

It is the sixth year in succession that Perth’s rail service has been rated highest overall. No other network has ever finished higher in Canstar Blue’s research. However, some other networks have performed better in specific areas, which we’ll come to shortly.

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City trains: what matters most

In addition to rating the five city train networks on customer satisfaction, the survey also reveals the main ‘drivers’ of passenger satisfaction. The regression analysis found that service reliability is the biggest factor in determining the satisfaction of Australian rail passengers, followed by:

  • Timetable/scheduling
  • Cost (ticket prices)
  • Trip comfort
  • Safety (at stations and on trains)
  • Train/station cleanliness
  • Ticketing system

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 (e.g. daily commuter vs. weekend traveller).

Service reliability

Across the country, 39% of survey respondents said they often experience delays when catching the train. Regular delays were reported by 48% of Metro Trains (Melbourne) passengers, followed by Sydney Trains (45%), Adelaide Metro (33%), Queensland Rail (31%) and TransPerth (16%).

Just 47% of respondents nationwide said punctuality is a strength of their train network. Those who use Metro Trains in Melbourne were least likely to describe punctuality as a strength (40%), followed closely by Sydney Trains (41%), Adelaide Metro and Queensland Rail (56%) and TransPerth (72%).

Timetable/scheduling

One in four survey respondents nationwide (25%) said they catch the train to work every day. Those who use Sydney Trains were most likely to do so (29%), followed by Metro Trains in Melbourne (27%), Adelaide Metro (25%), Queensland Rail (18%) and TransPerth (16%).

Across the country, fewer than half of survey respondents (47%) said that good scheduling/timetable is a strength of their rail network. Sydney Trains passengers were least likely to declare scheduling a strength (41%), followed by Metro Trains in Melbourne (46%), Adelaide Metro (48%), Queensland Rail (52%) and TransPerth (64%).

Cost (ticket prices)

The cost of travel is naturally a bugbear for many rail passengers, but some more than others. Passengers of Metro Trains (Melbourne) were least likely to describe ticket prices as a strength of their network (36%), followed by Sydney Trains (40%), Queensland Rail (41%), TransPerth (45%) and Adelaide Metro (51%).

Almost one in five Adelaide Metro passengers (18%) said they’ve been fined for travelling without having a ticket/correct ticket. That number dropped to 15% for Metro Trains (Melbourne), 12% for Sydney Trains, 9% for Queensland Rail and 7% for TransPerth.

Trip comfort

58% of survey respondents nationwide said they often experience overcrowding on trains. Those who use Metro Trains in Melbourne were most likely to report overcrowding (69%), ahead of Sydney Trains (62%), Adelaide Metro (47%), Queensland Rail (44%) and TransPerth (43%).

Safety (at stations and on trains)

The survey found that a majority of passengers generally feel safe catching the train during the day (86%), but this changes significantly when it comes to travelling at night (49%). Queensland Rail passengers (89%) were most likely to report feeling safe during the day, followed by TransPerth (88%), Adelaide Metro and Sydney Trains (85%) and Metro Trains in Melbourne (84%).

When it comes to travelling on the train at night, those who use Adelaide Metro were most likely to feel safe (56%), ahead of Queensland Rail (52%), Sydney Trains (51%), Metro Trains in Melbourne (45%) and then TransPerth (42%).

Passengers of Metro Trains in Melbourne were most likely to say they often witness anti-social behaviour on the trains (51%), followed by Sydney Trains customers (48%) and Adelaide Metro, Queensland Rail and TransPerth (47%).

Metro Trains (Melbourne) passengers – along with those who use Adelaide Metro – were also most likely to say that they would like to see extra security staff on the trains (75%), ahead of Sydney Trains (73%), TransPerth (71%) and Queensland Rail (68%).

Train/station cleanliness

Just 39% of survey respondents across the country described the cleanliness of their trains and stations as a strength of their network. This number dropped to 28% of those who use Metro Trains (Melbourne), followed by Sydney Trains (36%), Adelaide Metro (42%), Queensland Rail (49%) and TransPerth (57%).

Travelling pet hates

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

  • People having loud personal conversations (including on the phone): 54%
  • Smelly passengers: 53%
  • People being rude or aggressive: 52%
  • Sick people (Coughing, sneezing): 47%
  • People playing music loudly: 41%
  • Children being loud or misbehaving: 39%
  • People pushing past to get to/from seats: 31%
  • People taking up too much space (with laptops, newspapers): 29%
  • Young people not giving up seats for older passengers: 28%
  • Other people standing too close: 28%

There were some notable differences between train networks, however.

  • Queensland Rail passengers get most annoyed by loud personal conversations and children being loud or misbehaving.
  • Adelaide Metro passengers are least bothered by loud personal conversations and people playing music loudly.
  • Sydney Trains passengers are most likely to get annoyed by people pushing past them.
  • Metro Trains (Melbourne) passengers are the most likely to complain about people taking up too much space and people standing too close.
  • TransPerth passengers are the most likely to declare rude or aggressive people a problem.

This year’s city train ratings are based on the responses of 4,423 people who have caught a metropolitan train in the last six months. Survey outcomes are based on the responses of 4,457 people. This includes 1,509 people who have used Sydney Trains, 1,362 who have used Metro Trains in Melbourne, 692 who have used Queensland Rail, 548 who have used TransPerth and 273 who have used Adelaide Metro.

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Frequently asked questions

Canstar Blue surveyed 9,000 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, 4,423 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.

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