Motorway service stations are, for many people, the highlight of any journey ahead of reaching the desired destination.

They’re like these weird little havens where everything is more expensive and generally not as good as where you’d usually find it. But for some reason, these micro retail parks plonked in the middle of nowhere by the side of a motorway have some unique charm.

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They provide a welcome intermission from the endless driving and the chance to stretch your limbs and pay even more money for stuff you’d never usually buy out on the high street on a regular day. However, not all motorway service stations were created equally, as was confirmed yet again in a user satisfaction survey that ranks every services on England’s motorways.


How satisfying are England’s motorway service stations?

Carried out by independent transport user watchdog Transport Focus, the survey quizzed 9,600 customers on their experience at 111 motorway services, commenting on everything from toilets and staffing to food and drink. Overall, 92 per cent of customers were satisfied with their visit, which confirms the suggestion that Brits tend to like motorway service stations.

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The friendliness of staff was rated good by 94 per cent of visitors, while 89 per cent were satisfied with the cleanliness of the toilets. Two-thirds of visitors thought the food or drink available to eat in the services was good value for money, even with the price premium commonly lumped on to account for the extra expense and bother of providing it.

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How services actually improve road safety

Services have the ability to destress and energise motorists too. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of visitors said they arrived at the services in a tired, stressed or frustrated frame of mind. But by the time they were getting back in their vehicle, this was reduced to just five per cent.

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This highlights the beneficial impact that a good motorway services experience can have on driving standards and road safety. We don’t have individual comments regarding each motorway service station, but here are the best and worst as ranked in this survey.

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England’s best motorway services in 2018

  1. Norton Canes (M6 toll) – operated by Roadchef – 100% satisfaction rating
  2. Stafford Southbound (M6) – Roadchef – 99%
  3. Wetherby (A1 (M)) – Moto – 99%
  4. Hilton Park Southbound (M6) – Moto – 99%
  5. Corley Southbound (M6) – Welcome Break – 99%
  6. Tebay Southbound (M6) – Westmorland – 99%
  7. Pease Pottage (M23) – Moto – 99%
  8. Woodall Southbound (M1) – Welcome Break – 99%
  9. Killington Lake (M6) – Roadchef – 99%
  10.  Tebay Northbound (M6) – Westmorland – 99%

England’s worst motorway services in 2018

  1. Thurrock (M25) – Moto – 68%
  2. Toddington Southbound (M1) – Moto – 72%
  3. Southwaite Northbound (M6) – Moto – 80%
  4. Newport Pagnell South (M1) – Welcome Break – 81%
  5. Bridgwater (M5) – Moto – 81%

Can England’s worst services clean up their act?

Totally. It’s worth noting that the bottom two – Thurrock and Toddington Southbound – were undergoing refurbishment at the time of the survey, so maybe when the survey is conducted again in 2019, they will have demonstrated enough improvement to climb out of the worst list.

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There’s certainly previous of this kind of improvement. Heston East – the lowest-ranked site in 2017’s list – has gone up from a 62 per cent satisfaction rating to 88 per cent. Similarly, the second-worst service station last year, Stafford Southbound (70 per cent), has changed so much that it is now the second-best, with a 99 per cent approval rating.

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Which motorway service stations are your favourite? And which do you dread the most? Let us know down in the comments.


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