It's easy to get cynical in the midst of political turmoil, economic chaos, unhinged billionaires, World Cups in December, and Greggs selling out of vegan sausage rolls right as we get the craving. And we know that, when it comes to passenger support, transport operating companies (TOCs) hear from those they inconvenience more often than those they help. It's perfectly natural to be louder in complaint than in praise, but every day across the world there are thousands of people who have been helped in big and small ways by their TOC, and who want to let people know about it.
What we did
While there are many different national surveys on rail satisfaction, they aren't consistent across all the different territories we wanted to include. We decided to use Twitter data as the resource that covered the most countries and TOCs.
Judging positivity across a wide range of different cultures and organisations is tough. If you focus on the raw number of positive comments, you will obviously favour the large organisations who receive so many more posts. Conversely, if you look at the percentage of positive posts, really small organisations with a handful of monthly tweets can significantly benefit.
We were also keen to reward TOCs that were particularly focused on the category they succeeded in, and that showed excellence across all the different aspects within a category.
Our formula for deciding upon the winner of awards therefore took into account:
- Overall positive sentiment of comments in the category
- Number of positive comments in the category
- Proportion of all comments that appear in the category
- The lowest sentiment score of any of the subcategories within the awards category
If you want more information on our methodology, the limitations involved, much prettier formatting, and a whole raft of supporting evidence, take a look at our official awards brochure. However, if blog posts be the food of love, play on. Read on. Didn't work as well as I was hoping.
Public rail exists for the benefit of the passengers. Therefore, we have developed this set of awards which follows the different stages of the passenger journey — from booking a ticket through to local transport getting us home. With that in mind, the awards are as follows:
Before We Travel Award
From a wide field of competition consisting of sleek apps, special fares, and low-cost alternatives to air travel, this award was a close-run thing. The TOC that clinched it had the highest conversation share regarding the pre-train experience, and the broadest spread of different topics worthy of praise. Their ticket prices were seen as fair, and customer conversations often saw passengers jumping in to give advice to each other on how to access saver tickets showing a strong community backing. The winner of our first category was...
SBB/CFF/FFS, Switzerland's national rail company. Congratulations!
At the Station Award
At the station, many TOCs were going above and beyond to explain things to confused passengers, provide easily accessible information on things like bike space, and staff all-round improving the experience. Our winner in this category showed consistent extra-mile customer service — even for customers of other TOCs — and held a little birthday party for itself which customers loved. The winner of At the Station was...
Lumo, the UK's youngest train operating company. Many happy returns!
Praise for TOCs onboard the trains themselves ranged from customers pleased the bike and wheelchair spaces were kept clear, to informative and amusing announcements, to the delights of the dining cars. The victor for onboard experience saw the greatest positivity of all our operators in this category, and were particularly well-congratulated for their business class service and catering. The big winner of the Onboard Award was...
Amtrak, America's public train operator. Nice one!
Given the sensitivity of this area, it is simply lush to see so many stories of outstanding customer service for passengers with additional access needs. Conductors being respectful of the autonomy of wheelchair users, staff offering assistance before it has even been sought, even instances of passengers in serious medical danger being conveyed swiftly to hospital — there is plenty to be praised in this category. However, there was one outstanding TOC in this category that consistently led the pack in anecdotage and sentiment with support for neurodiverse passengers, as well as internal organisational accessibility demonstrated by their new apprenticeship scheme welcoming its first deaf apprentice. The best TOC in the category of Access was...
Scotrail, the recently re-nationalised Scottish rail network. Lang may yer lum reek.
Best Metro Award
The metropolitan rail category was our closest-run race. Passengers love shouting out their metros, which provide so much in terms of commuter, tourist, and suburban mobility. Particularly popular schemes involved reducing fares to encourage more energy-efficient public transit use, providing unique support for deaf passengers, and going above and beyond to ensure reliability to a tee. Our winner scraped ahead here thanks to continuous investment in service improvement, integration with the community, and overall affection felt by the people it serves. The winner of Best Metro was...
Sound Transit, Seattle's integrated public transport service. Awesome.
The overall winner...
There were a lot of TOCs worthy of praise across the board. For each category's nominees and the praise heaped on each by the passengers themselves, have a gander at our official awards brochure. But there was one that stood above all others in terms of sentiment, positive comments, and excellence across all categories. It is with great pleasure that we announce the winner of our 2022 World Passenger Awards...
Big congratulations to Lumo. We love a young, scrappy underdog, and so apparently do your passengers! Another hurrah is in order for all you transport providers out there, too. The work you do to get the public where they need to go is deeply appreciated, and we saw instances of gratitude for every operator that crossed our screen. Keep up the good work!
If you've got happy (or frustrated) passengers that you hear from, and want to find hard data to drive your CX decision-making, get in touch with us. We're much more than a pretty face (let's be honest, those award photos would all have been improved by shifting our CEO out of frame. Sorry Pete, wear more merch next time).