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.
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:
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.
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:
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).
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%).
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%).
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.
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%).
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%).
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%).
Survey respondents were also asked about their ‘pet hates’ of train travel. The most common complaints were:
There were some notable differences between train networks, however.
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.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s Content Projects Lead, Dean Heckscher. He’s our resident expert on all things automotive, health & fitness, streaming and more. Dean is also one of Canstar Blue’s customer research report producers, helping to turn complicated subjects into easily-digestible information for our readers. He’s passionate about helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services.
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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[bs_lead]This is for all those people who have ever stood on a crowded train, surrounded by frustrating people, desperate just to get home to bed.[/bs_lead]
Asking thousands of Australian commuters about their pet peeves of rail travel is akin to opening Pandora’s Box – all of our darkest secrets and frustrations burst out for the entire world to see. Which of course makes for humours reading.
With the exception of normal complaints such as delays, overcrowding and trains generally being a bit yuck, we invited rail passengers across the country to vent their spleens. This is what we found...
It was a close race to the top of the annoying charts, but passengers who think it’s perfectly OK to have loud personal conversations on the train are worthy winners. These people often have no dignity. Does the entire carriage need to know about your weekend plans, or that you’ve got an ingrown toenail? The answer is no, and 53% of respondents to our survey agree that these people need to sort their lives out.
Second place on this list of train pet peeves is a tie between two groups of passengers you can only pray don’t sit next to you. We’re talking, of course, about smelly people… and the sick. In any normal circumstances, people with a cold would have our sympathy, but the train ride home is not the real world – it’s a parallel universe where traditional standards of tolerance are not applied. It’s every man for himself, and don’t you dare give me your germs! As for smelly people, what can you say? You can only sit there, try not to breathe, and hope they get off at the next stop. Both of these groups annoy 51% of us.
Talking of pet peeves, check out this video from Transperth, the rail operator in Western Australian. They’ve used actual pets to illustrate their top tips for improving trips.
Next up are passengers who think it’s OK to be generally rude or aggressive. Now, the thing about travelling at busy times is, there’s really no point being an A-hole. In fact, you shouldn’t be one at any time, whether it’s on a train, platform or queuing for a coffee. There is often a sense that ‘we're all in it together’ when things get a bit bleak on the train ride home at the end of another draining day at the office, so taking your frustration out on other people is not acceptable. Half of survey respondents (50%) agreed these people are jerks.
After the big four complaints above, the next most complained about pet peeve of train travel gets just 41% of us worked up – maybe we’re all just old fuddy-duddies! Actually, no, we’re not, because people who think it’s OK to play their music out loud on the train are up there with puppy killers in the eyes of this author. What planet do these people come from? How arrogant of them to think everyone else on the train shares their taste in music! Although, the reality is they just don’t give a hoot about the people around them.
There's something about confined spaces and loud children that just drives some people crazy. If you're trying to work, or just get some rest on a train, noisy or misbehaving children are the last thing you need. More than one in three (38%) adults in our survey get wound up by kids on trains. Again, standards of normal tolerance are left on the station platform.
The thing about sharing a train carriage with 100 other people is that you’re bound to touch each other. Whether it’s because the train has suddenly slowed down, or gone round a bend – it’s inevitable. People will accept this and usually think nothing of it when someone else's arm brushes yours. However, it’s when someone hasn’t made enough effort to respect your personal space that things change. That’s exactly why ‘people who stand too close’ and ‘people pushing past’ are the next on our hit list of pet peeves. Both groups frustrate 28% of us.
Have you ever sat opposite some bloke slouched in his seat, with his legs pretty much wide open? Sure, he’s just sitting comfortably, but he’s also taking up way too much space – and making it difficult for the person opposite to look forward! About one in four (26%) respondents to our survey said people who take up too much space get their backs up. This can include our friend the sloucher, our people who just get a bit too close with their newspaper or laptop. And don’t get me started on people who leave their bags on seats, so others need to ask for their permission to sit down!
In addition to the subjects already mentioned above, there are plenty of other things that wind people up on the train, including passengers who try to start conversations with you when you’re clearly not in the mood! So what’s the solution? Well, as your parents may have taught you, it’s nice to treat people exactly how you would like to be treated. So be nice, be respectful, be considerate, and turn your bloody music off.
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