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The consumer group Which? has released its 2017 customer satisfaction survey results for rail companies and Thameslink/Great Northern are almost bottom with some absolutely dire scores.  The numbers in the table below are star ratings (maximum 5 stars).

  Leisure Commuter
Punctuality 2 2
Reliability 2 2
Seat availability 3 2
Standing space 3 2
Frequency 3 1
Carriages 2 1
Toilets 2 2
Value for money 2 2
Customer score 46% 32%

Parent company Govia have predictably blamed strikes for their poor showing.  While strikes have obviously been a major factor for another Govia franchise (Southern - bottom in both tables), there have not been any on Thameslink or Great Northern - unless there have been unreported strikes on Great Northern that are to blame for the daily cancellations, the semi-painted carriages and the failure to wash windows or external surfaces.

govia great northern train at palmers greenA typically scruffy Govia train at Palmers Green

Just contrast the scruffy trains on the Hertford Loop with the very similar trains that TFL Rail run between Liverpool Street and Brentwood.  As soon as TFL Rail took over they refurbished the interiors, adding electronic information displays, and repainted the exteriors, which are kept clean.

The Great Northern trains will be retired some time in 2018, so it's not worth making them attractive?  Well, Govia have had since September 2015 to spruce up the trains, but instead have made them less attractive by removing First Capital Connect branding without repainting the carriages.  The TFL Rail trains aren't long for this world either - they will go when Crossrail services start - but their managers evidently take a bit of pride in what they do.

Which makes it all the more galling that the prospect of eventual transfer of suburban services to TfL that was dangled in front of us a few months ago has now disappeared, seemingly because the government doesn't want to do anything that might boost the popularity of a Labour Mayor in City Hall.

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