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WAGN failures

The rail watchdog, OPRAF, has published a damning survey on the service provided by West Anglia Great Northern following the latest survey of passengers.

It shows that on 17 accounts WAGN’s services were below the benchmark level of acceptability with only one category showing an improvement in the past six months. 


The Office of Passenger Rail Franchising (OPRAF) was responsible for letting the 25 passenger train franchises operating on the national railway network in Great Britain. It now monitors and manages those franchises with a strong emphasis on protecting passengers' interests, fresh investment in the railway and quality of service.

WAGN customers voted that the company had slightly improved its printed information about train times and fares, but from then on it was bad news.


The research was carried out by The Oxford Research Agency, mostly using a self-completion on-train method.

Twice a year more than 2,500 customers are asked to rate the level of service they have experienced in the previous three months, on a scale ranging from 1, representing ‘very poor’ to 10, representing ‘excellent’. Full details can be found at the OPRAF site. (The figures take time to download, so a summary is contained below in case you get tired of waiting, although those who use WAGN regularly may be used to that).

Below Average Service

Compared to the average benchmark of all services nation-wide, WAGN was below average in the following categories…

  • Price of tickets
  • Frequency of trains at times you wish to use them
  • Availability of seats on trains
  • General condition and maintenance of trains
  • Providing information you need at stations about trains and platforms
  • Ease of buying a ticket
  • General condition and maintenance of stations
  • Waiting times between connecting services
  • Providing clear signage and directions at stations
  • Number of staff available
  • Reacting quickly when there are problems
  • Availability of direct services
  • Keeping delays and cancellations to a minimum
  • Punctuality of trains
  • Providing a service you feel safe using during the evening and at night
  • Providing a service you feel safe using during the day
  • Availability of services and facilities at local stations

Above Average Service

Compared to the average benchmark of all services nation-wide, WAGN was above average in the following category…

  • Providing printed information about train times and fares

Acceptable Service

Compared to the average benchmark of all services nation-wide, WAGN scored the average points total in the following categories…

  • Providing appropriate information when there are delays
  • Attitudes and helpfulness of staff

WAGN response

In response to the criticism contained in the survey WAGN issued the following statement:

"We take seriously any worsening trends in customer satisfaction and will act to deal with any deterioration wherever this is within our reasonable control. To address issues raised by the survey results we are taking a number of steps including:

  • Train-by-train timetable adjustments to reduce crowding levels still further. These measures have so far halved the percentage of passengers in excess of capacity, from 12% to 0.6%.
  • Launch of the first Family Travelcard and introduction of a Stansted Airport Family Ticket.
  • Price cuts on a range of ordinary tickets from Huntingdon, Hitchin and Potters Bar to Peterborough and Stansted Airport.
  • Running an additional 300 trains per week from May 1998.
  • New interchanges from May 1998 enabling connection in to and out of all City Hopper services at Hackney Downs and connection between fast and slow services on Heron Line and Hertford East branch at Broxbourne.
  • New trains on Heron line, and refurbishment of trains used on Capital Connect services.
  • Allocation of a substantial budget this year for new signs at stations.
  • Recruitment of 35 additional ticket sales staff.
  • Refurbishment of Harlow Town station, including disabled persons’ facilities.
  • Complete refurbishment and upgrade at Hatfield station.

WAGN serves the routes into London from Peterborough, Kings Lynn and Cambridge (including a non-stop service), and from Hertford, Enfield and Chingford. It also operates the Stansted airport shuttle. It operates into three principal London termini - Kings Cross, Moorgate and Liverpool Street.

This site is already gathering commuters feedback regarding the service particularly from Brookmans Park, Welham Green and Potters Bar. 

Anyone who wants to air their views can do so in the 'Have Your Say' section of this site.  You can also read what others have said about this and other issues in the 'What You Said' section.

Please ask your fellow commuters to log into this site and add their comments.  The URL is

August 20, 1998, updated Sept 3.

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