Today, the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) has published its National Statistics assessment report, covering National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) statistics produced by Transport Focus.

Following this assessment OSR has concluded that the NRPS statistics, while substantially meeting the standards and including some areas of best practice, need development and investment to fully serve the public good. This is to ensure that as the independent official measure of rail passenger satisfaction across the rail network, the NRPS statistics can be designated as a National Statistic.

The report finds these statistics are a valued and important data tool, but highlights two significant areas to address:

  • The limitation of the survey, as it only measures passenger satisfaction in the spring and autumn each year. This does not capture the impact of passenger journeys outside of these periods, with any issues caused by national timetable changes in May and December, short-term effects following the annual fare increases each January, or extreme weather events at other times of the year not included; and
  • The need to develop measures and capture broader passenger satisfaction based on an operators’ overall level of service, and not just with the last journey taken.

Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation, said:

“The NRPS statistics really matter as they are used as a key performance indicator for train operating companies, to hold the rail industry to account and to assess the quality of train services provided to passengers.

He continued:

“These statistics are also the only publicly available measure for understanding rail passenger satisfaction across the rail network. Substantial collaborative action by Transport Focus, the Department for Transport and the rail industry is required to enhance the public value of these important statistics, so that they can be relevant and underpin an evolving rail industry.”


Notes to Editors

  • The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority. We provide independent regulation of all official statistics produced in the UK assessed against the Code of Practice for Statistics. The Code of Practice for Statistics applies to everyone in an organisation producing official statistics, including senior leaders, policy professionals, communications staff and other analysts. Official statistics should be compiled to the highest standards of quality to ensure decision-making is based on sound evidence.
  • The National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) is one of the largest, published, rail passenger satisfaction surveys in the world. It provides a consistent and comparable measure of rail passenger satisfaction across GB so that the performance of individual train operating companies (TOCs) can be compared over time, and which can be amalgamated to produce GB-level trends. The statistics have been produced for the last 20 years and have been included as a key performance measure in the franchise agreements of many TOCs since 2008.
  • The limitation of the survey is it only measures passenger satisfaction in the spring and autumn each year. NRPS autumn fieldwork covers a 10-week period between September and mid November each year. Spring fieldwork covers a 10-week period starting in mid to late January and is complete before Easter.
  • We assess statistics against the standards set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Under legislation, assessment is the only tool that allows us to confer National Statistics status on official statistics. We must assess compliance with the Code in response to requests made by a producer in relation to any official statistic.
  • National Statistics status tells users that the statistics comply with the Code and meet and the highest standards of Trustworthiness, Quality and Value.
  • Statistics are an essential public asset. OSR ensures public confidence in the trustworthiness, quality and value of statistics produced by government. For more information please contact Suzanne Halls on 07411 212300, email or visit the OSR website.


Related Links:

Assessment Report 348: National Rail Passenger Survey

Letter: Ed Humpherson to Louise Coward (January 2019)