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Wiping The Slate Clean

The latest National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) revealed train operating companies still have significant improvements to make before fulfilling passengers’ expectations. James Lomas, Rail Sales Manager at Arrow Solutions, explains to us what the results of the NRPS mean for train operating companies (TOCs) and train presentation managers.

With more than 50,000 passengers surveyed every year, the NRPS provides a network-wide picture of consumers’ experiences when it comes to travelling by train. The most recent survey has confi rmed that internal and external cleanliness are important factors in overall customer satisfaction – second only to punctuality.

The rise of train ticket prices has resulted in more sophisticated demands from the general public when it comes to rail journeys. Although punctuality, customer service and ticket prices will always be key indicators of customer experience, other aspects, including train presentation, are under more scrutiny from passengers now than ever before.

On a national scale, the cleanliness satisfaction levels have remained stagnant over the last year, with 9% of passengers dissatisfi ed and 17% indifferent. When it comes to inside cleanliness, 10% of passengers are dissatisfi ed with the efforts of TOCs, while 8% of travellers believe exterior cleanliness of trains is poor. This might not seem like a lot, but when cleanliness has such a big impact on overall passenger satisfaction levels, its importance quickly becomes obvious.

Punctuality and service reliability still have the biggest impact on overall passenger satisfaction. However,

these are often out of the control of TOCs as delays are usually a result of external factors. Cleanliness, on the other hand, is an easy win. Train operators need only to make sure they use the right products for the right jobs, respect the directions of use for each cleaning chemical and stick to the cleaning schedule.

The Right Product Old habits die hard in the rail industry, and cleaning products that have been used without signifi cant success defi nitely fall into that category. Arrow Solutions often fi nds train operating companies are reluctant to change the cleaning products they have been using for a long time, despite results being far from outstanding. Improving train presentation and cleanliness is often a matter of trying something new and doing things just a little bit differently.

Hard water areas also have different effects on cleaning products and tend to make chemicals foam more. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it comes to exterior cleaning. In fact, when foam sticks to the exterior of trains it gives the chemical greater contact time; with the right product this can give better results.

A simple rule to see if cleaning chemicals are working as they should is to let each product do its job without demanding too much effort from cleaning staff. If getting soiling off a

specifi c surface takes several washes or intensive scrubbing, the chemical might not be suitable for the job.

Rust, iron deposits and brake dust are some of the most stubborn residues found on trains. An effi cient, thickened exterior train cleaner should be viscous and concentrated enough to cling to surfaces for a longer time and remove heavy soiling without damaging paintwork, glass or vinyl.

Arrow Solutions has been supplying professional cleaning chemicals to the rail industry for more than 45 years. The company provides a range of exterior washing products, including daily use cleaners, degreasers, rust and scale removers that can get rid of virtually any type of soiling. Interior cleaning products that remove ingrained residues, as well as sanitising surfaces and masking odours, are also an essential part of Arrow Solutions’ rail offering.

This year, Arrow Solutions is challenging train operating companies (TOCs) that want to improve their cleanliness ratings to make their toughest cleaning problems known to the company’s experts. Arrow Solutions will assess every challenge free of charge and provide an alternative way of solving the problem. 49

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