PASSENGER satisfaction with Great Western Railway has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade, according to new research.

A report by independent transport user Watchdog Transport focus shows only 78 per cent of rail users are satisfied with the South West’s and South Wales train operator - the lowest since 2007.

There are also twice as many delayed and cancelled trains as almost 10 years ago, its report says.

A GWR spokesman said: “We recognise that our performance last year was not good enough. Our customers have every right to be frustrated and we’re really sorry to anyone affected.

“As a result, we worked with our partners across the industry to put a performance improvement plan in place.”

“While there is still more to do, this has seen us move from delivering 72 per cent of our trains between South Wales and Paddington on time six months ago in June 2018 to over 90 per cent today.”

The company says 90 per cent of trains run by GWR through Wiltshire, ran ‘on time’ in January.

GWR claims the rise in its public performance measure figure, showing the number of trains arriving within 10 minutes of their advertised time, proves its long-term investment in infrastructure and rolling stock is starting to pay off.

From September-November 2018, GWR’s was 83 per cent. In January it hit 91.4 per cent. customer satisfaction figures also show a 17 per cent rise in the ‘upkeep and repair of the train.

The train operator announced last year it is replacing three car units with more modern trains with five carriages, as well as replacing 40-year-old HSTs with Intercity Express trains.

This work has already started on many bristol routes and is planned for the Cardiff-Portsmouth services operating through West Wiltshire.

GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: “We must work hard to continue this improvement and our promise to deliver more seats, more services, and quicker journeys as part of the biggest upgrade in a generation.”

Customer satisfaction figures show a 17 per cent rise in the ‘upkeep and repair of the train’, as GWR replaces 40-year-old high speed trains with intercity express trains.

These improvements have in turn increased overall train satisfaction by six per cent and overall journey satisfaction by three per cent.

This is despite a period of poor punctuality during the last year, as Network Rail track improvement works affected swathes of the county’s network.

Mr Hopwood added: “We know last year our performance was not good. multiple pieces of engineering work; new signalling; electrification; rolling stock cascades; train crew training, and reduced timetable agreements all adversely affected the service we delivered to our customers.”

Independent figures compiled for GWR also show a 16 per cent increase in the ‘availability of wifi’ on board; an eight per cent rise in customer’s likelihood to recommend the service, and a seven per cent increase in the ‘smoothness of the ride’.