Consumer champion Which? has revealed that rail passengers using train lines in the south-east of England were the least satisfied with the service, while those using trains in the north were happiest.

A Which? survey on national rail services found that the four worst-performing train services operated in the south-east of England, with trains further north proving more satisfactory.

The poorest performing rail companies were TGN/FCC (with an overall satisfaction score of 43%), Southeastern (44%), Southern (46%) and Abellio Greater Anglia (46%).

In contrast, passenger satisfaction was 69% on First Hull Trains and 64% on Merseyrail. Grand Central, which operates on the East Coast Main Line between Sunderland and London King's Cross, was the top performing company with 76% satisfaction.

Martin Abrams, public transport campaigner for the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "The Which? survey paints a bleak picture of expensive fares, frequent delays, overcrowded, dirty trains and poor communication from train companies to passengers.

"It is very notable that some of the busiest train routes around London and the South East are also regarded as offering the worst value for money. It's also telling that those franchises which are managed locally rather than from Whitehall tend to offer a better service."

The Rail Delivery Group, the body representing the rail operators, said punctuality was good and so was investment.

"While almost nine out 10 trains now arrive on schedule, we are investing billions of pounds so that we make good on that promise more often and improve passengers' satisfaction with our services," said a spokesman for the Rail Delivery group.