SCOTRAIL has been rated one of the worst train operators in Britain for customer satisfaction having taken a hammering for punctuality and reliability.

It finished 23rd out of 30 train companies in the UK receiving a "lowly" customer score of just 45 per cent down from last year's score of 51%. ScotRail said it was disappointed by the result but not surprised.

The survey by the consumer association Which? came before the train operator, run by Dutch transport firm Abellio, was issued with an improvement notice on Christmas Eve over the massive disruption to rail services following December's new timetable launch that had breached required performance targets.

Which? found that one in four ScotRail commuters found travelling by train frequently stressful and nearly one in five said they missed out on time with family and friends. And one in 10 said they faced additional childcare costs because of the train delays they had faced.

Distrust of the rail industry continued to climb among Scottish passengers now standing at 26 per cent, seven percentage points higher than a year ago.

Alex Hayman, Which? public markets managing director said: “It’s clear that ScotRail passengers aren’t at all happy with the service they’re receiving on a daily basis.

“If faith in the company is to be restored, it must listen to passengers who have too often been an afterthought." 

Lesley Laird Labour MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said: “ScotRail is languishing in the customer satisfaction league and it’s not at all surprising.

“Despite promises before Christmas that commuters on the Fife Circle Line would see a marked improvement in the New Year, I’m still hearing regular reports of cancelled, delayed and overcrowded trains.

"Passengers desperately  need a reliable and equitable national rail system which works for everyone.”

Alexander Stewart Conservative MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife: “For ScotRail to have been named as one of the worst rail services in the UK is not unexpected.

"Neither is it any surprise that customer satisfaction with the operator is at its lowest for six years.

"This will make for entirely predictable and depressing reading for the Fife Circle commuters, as we have been saying this for months and it brings shame on an apparently complacent ScotRail.

"The SNP is complicit in all this and its ambition should be for our trains to be the envy of the rest of the UK, not propping up the bottom of the league table."

Mark Ruskell, Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said “This survey won’t be a surprise to anybody - I’m still receiving complaints from constituents every week about late, cancelled and overcrowded trains, and Fife was completely forgotten about in the December timetable update.

"I recently met with Scotrail executives who promised me that new rolling stock would be coming to Fife in May, and this would help alleviate the significant overcrowding so may Fife commuters face at rush hour. They need to make sure they deliver on this, but also explain how they intend to make the service more reliable all round”.

Which? said the train operator, whose services account for 95 per cent of passenger journeys in Scotland, achieved a "dismal result" in the October survey, rating poorly across a number of categories, achieving just two stars for punctuality, reliability and value for money.

It performed marginally better in several other categories, receiving three stars for aspects such as customer service and the condition of carriages.

Earlier this week a poll, of more than 1000 people for Censuswide Scotland, found more than half of Scottish rail commuters now struggle to afford full fares. It also follows a January hike in fares of 2.8% on average but 3.2% on the anytime full fares and season tickets used by regular commuters working the old standard 9-5 day.

A ScotRail spokesperson said: “We always listen to feedback from our customers and do what we can to improve the service we offer.

“The overall satisfaction score from the Which? survey is disappointing, but not surprising given the challenges we have faced in recent months.

“Everyone at ScotRail is working flat out to deliver the improved service our customers expect and deserve.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “ScotRail’s performance, in terms of cancellations and reliability, over the last 12 months hasn’t been good enough – that’s undeniable and why we took the serious contractual step of issuing a remedial plan notice, and we now expect to see improvements."