GRAND Central Rail is one of the UK’s most trustworthy rail companies, according to a national survey of passengers.

The firm, which is now owned by transport giant Arriva, has consistently topped passenger satisfaction surveys since it began running daily services between Sunderland and London King’s Cross in December 2007.

A study for watchdog body Passenger Focus, which looked at passengers’ relationship with the rail industry, resulted in Grand Central being one of only three companies to receive positive marks for the service it provides.

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This involved five factors – punctuality/reliability, value for money, resolution of problems and how helpful staff were on trains and at stations.

Grand Central, based in York, also got positive marks in the ‘trust in relationship’ category - along with Virgin Trains - which examined how truthful firms were, whether they acted with honesty and integrity, building long-term relationships and treating customers fairly.

It was last week granted a ten year contract extension by the Office of Rail Regulation which should enable it to further invest in rolling stock and passenger facilities.

Richard McClean, managing director of Grand Central Rail, said: “We are very pleased to note the high levels of trust in Grand Central Rail as reported by our passengers. The long-term support of our passengers and stakeholders is something we value very highly and we endeavour to treat passengers fairly and act with honesty and integrity at all times."

However, there was less good news in the Passenger Focus study for Northern, the region’s biggest operator of rail services, which joined Southern and Southeastern in getting the most negative marks in the trust in relationship category.

Alex Hynes, managing director for Northern Rail, said: “Building a level of trust with our customers is very important to us. With a network as large and varied as ours, we work hard to get the basics right but building relationships can be a challenge. We are committed to making improvements and this survey gives us a clear indication of where we can do better.”

A total of 4,000 passengers were questioned for the survey with the overriding response being that they did not feel train companies were “on their side”.

Passenger Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: "There is much that train companies - and governments - can do to improve trust. It is important for train companies to get the basic service right ahead of everything else.”