Top rail brands revealed

15/08/2019 By Tim Sander

August 2019

UK rail sector is in better shape than 12 months ago, but rail brands are struggling to restore their reputation

Customers of Britain’s rail companies believe that the rail sector is in better shape than 12 months ago.  But despite this improvement in general perceptions of the industry, many train operating companies are struggling to change negative brand perceptions and improve online sentiment towards their brands.

The 2019 Rail Reputation Index, produced by independent transport consumer insight specialists, BVA BDRC, reveals that six of the 24 major train operating companies have recorded an improved Net Promoter Score (NPS) but the remaining 18 have either declined year-on-year or failed to improve. The Rail Reputation Index is an annual study and is based on interviews with approximately 6,000 train users, with samples representative of the journey mix of each train operating company, as well as analysis of online sentiment towards rail brands.

Read the full story over at the Global Railway Review.

The Rail Reputation Index (RRI) is an independent reputation monitor launched by BVA BDRC and made available on a subscription basis. It is designed to help train operating companies deliver an enhanced customer experience, reduce negative word of mouth, make a positive change to their brand reputation, and drive customer loyalty and engagement. The report complements existing measures of operational performance in the industry (such as the NRPS), and gives a commercial emphasis, helping train operating companies (TOCs) to develop more profitable customer relationships.

The Rail Reputation Index combines two sources of data: a quantitative survey and online conversations. The RRI score takes into account the NPS and Net Sentiment score, looking at: the individual performance of each TOC on both metrics and comparing performance relative to the other TOCs.

BVA BDRC conducted an online survey amongst people having used named train operating companies within the past six months. Fieldwork was conducted from 15 April to 2 May 2019.

All franchised TOCs in the UK are covered. Respondents can answer about more than one TOC.

The questionnaire focuses on the Net Promoter Score and brand positioning, with results for each TOC and sector level benchmarks. To control for differing TOC sample sizes, sector results are calculated as a straight average of TOC results (i.e. each TOC is equally weighted within sector-level results).


A total of 5,874 passengers were interviewed (compared to 4,001 last year). Robust sample sizes are achieved for each train operator. Respondents are sampled to be representative of each TOC’s journey mix (commuters, business and leisure passengers). Results are also weighted to be representative of the same journey purpose profile.

Social media analysis

With passengers increasingly communicating directly with TOCs and their peers through online channels, these conversations cannot be ignored in the assessment of customer advocacy.

Our social analytics tool gets closer to the natural conversations happening out there in the online space, by listening to how TOC brands are talked about across social media and how that influences the customer experience.

The social media analytics cover all 24 TOCs in the UK and rigorous content cleaning and checks are set and regularly reviewed to ensure data quality. The analysis looks at online earned media (social media, news, blogs, review sites and forums) from 1 May 2018 to 30 April 2019.

Further Information

You may also be interested in our blog Tick TOC; why the new rail timetables are a wake-up call

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