High prices and low quality food mean train catering is off the rails.

Ben TobinYouGov PR Manager
June 02, 2014, 4:30 PM GMT+0

A recent YouGov report shows that lower prices would be the key motivator in persuading more people to buy food and drink at railway stations or on trains, while healthy options and increased quality are also desired.

The research showed that 72% of respondents believe the food available at railway stations to be overpriced, while only 8% say the food represented good value for money. Seven in ten (70%) assert that lower prices would potentially persuade them to buy food either in the station or on board. In the words of one 50-year-old male respondent; “food is always overpriced and not good value for money, [it] only suits people on business who can claim cost back on expenses.”

Fresher food (58%), higher quality choices (58%) and ‘more healthy options’ (42%) are also seen as aspects which could be improved upon in order to tempt customers. 42% said they find it difficult to select any healthy choices at stations currently. Words which were associated with train station food were expensive (55%), alright (42%) uninspired (29%), processed (28%) and calorific (19%). There is also a desire from 39% to see freshly brewed coffee on the train.

The data suggests that there are number of specific improvements that could be made to on-train service that would prove popular; one in five (20%) indicated that they would more likely to buy food/drink at train stations/on trains if they could pre-order meals that would be delivered to their seat on the train. 16% would be more likely to buy if they were able to order items while on board that would be brought onto the train at a stop on the journey. Two in five (40%) could be persuaded by vouchers or money off as part of their train ticket.

Tom Rees, UK research manager at YouGov Reports, assessed the findings; ‘Clearly, there are improvements that customers would like to see both on trains and at the station, but this provides an opportunity for businesses. Scope exists for retailers positioning themselves on good quality food at reasonable prices. Train companies could also focus on providing a more varied service on board, and innovative ways of ordering food look like they would be welcome.’’

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