More than 30,000 drivers have had their say on which of Britain’s 120 motorway service stations are best and worst – and it’s the nation’s newest site that has taken the top honour for a second year running.
Moto Rugby services on the M6 – which only opened in 2021 – held onto its crown as the best motorway station in an annual independent poll carried out by watchdog, Transport Focus.
The Warwickshire services received a 100 per cent satisfaction score. It boasts 458 car parking spaces, seven food outlets, 24 ultra-rapid charging points for electric vehicles, two children’s play areas and even a dedicated dog waking area.
But what about the motorway services that didn’t receive such glowing feedback from drivers and their passengers?
The best place to take a break on a long motorway journey: Moto’s Rugby service station is ranked number one out of 120 motorway services in Britain in a new poll conducted by a transport watchdog
You can use the interactive map below to click on each of the 120-rated motorway services up and down Britain to find each location’s individual scores.
In the sixth year of the annual survey, Transport Focus said motorists are generally happy with the quality of motorway services they visit – though said there is still room for improvement, especially keeping food and drink prices low during the cost-of-living crunch.
The average satisfaction score across all 120 sites was 94 per cent, which is one percentage point higher than 2022 and six percentage points higher than the poll’s inaugural year in 2017.
The study saw 30,774 visitors asked to give their views on the quality of various elements of motorway services as they leave. This includes the customer service they’d received, value of refreshments and EV charging facilities.
Feedback suggested an improvement in toilet facilities, up from 88 per cent in 2022 to an average of 92 per cent this year – and more than nine in 10 visitors said staff at the services were helpful and friendly.
Stopping at one of the 120 services rated was said to have had a positive impact on drivers’ mood and provided an opportunity to rest, relax and take a break.
Three in ten visitors (30 per cent) said they were tired, stressed or frustrated on arrival to one of the locations, which fell to a quarter (25 per cent) once they’d left.
Rugby named the best motorway services – here’s the most improved location
The country’s newest service station retained the gong it won last year, with Moto Rugby receiving the highest scores for the cleanliness of toilets, its food and drink and friendly staff.
With around three million people visiting the services each year, it’s one of the busiest in the country. And it’s also Moto’s greenest with sustainable drainage, a biomass energy boiler and expansive windows to cut down on daylight lighting bills.
Completed and opened at the end of April 2021, the nations’ favourite motorway services cost £40million and has a raft of eatery options, with a Burger King, Costa Coffee, Greggs, KFC, Pret a Manger, M&S Food and WH Smiths on site.
Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith (centre, left) hands the Motorway Services User Survey 2023 winner award to Moto chief executive Ken McMeikan (right) surrounded by staff working at the Moto Rugby location
Moto’s Rugby site has taken the crown as Britain’s best-rated motorway services for the second year in a row. That’s some achievement for a facility that only opened back in April 2021
The nations’ favourite motorway services cost £40million and has a raft of eatery options, with a Burger King, Costa Coffee, Greggs, KFC, Pret a Manger, M&S Food and WH Smiths on site
Rugby services has a picnic area with its own small water feature (pictured), an indoor and outdoor kids play area, showers and dedicated baby changing rooms
Rugby services boasts 24 ultra-rapid charging points. A dozen are Gridserve devices (pictured left) while the remaining 12 are Tesla Superchargers (pictured right)
Around three million people pass through the doors at Rugby services each year making it one of the busiest in the country. It’s also Moto’s greenest featuring sustainable drainage, a biomass energy boiler and expansive windows to cut down on daylight lighting bills
There’s also a picnic area with its own small water feature, an indoor and outdoor kids play area, showers and dedicated baby changing rooms.
It’s also a favourite stop-off point for EV owners, with 12 Gridserve rapid chargers and another 12 Tesla Superchargers offering short recharge times.
One visitor who responded to the poll described Moto Rugby as ‘very clean and well laid out’ with ‘lots of choice for buying food and drinks’ and ‘seating available both inside and out’.
They added that the motorway services building was ‘light and airy’ and ‘very attractive inside’.
Commenting on winning the award as the best service station for a second year running, Moto chief executive Ken McMeikan said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ the site had been recognised by UK motorists yet again.
‘At Moto we are setting out to transform the UKs rest stop experience through accelerated roll out of ultra-rapid EV chargers, upgraded shower facilities for HGV drivers, ultra-fast wi-fi for commuters, rolling out changing places for those with limited accessibility and the major refurbishments of our toilets and baby changing facilities for all.’
He added: ‘It’s fantastic recognition that the motorway services industry as a whole are scoring an average of 94 per cent customer satisfaction, up from 88 per cent in 2017 when the first survey was completed.’
Operator Moto took four out of the ten top spots in the list of best services, with Wetherby in fourth (99 per cent), Reading East in eighth (99 per cent) and Ferrybridge tenth (98 per cent).
Roadchef took another four of the top ten rankings with Killington Lake second (99 per cent), closely followed by Annandale Water in third (99 per cent), which was the highest scorer in all of Scotland. Stafford South was fifth and Chester seventh, also both scoring 99 per cent satisfaction scores.
Roadchef’s Killington Lake services on the M6 was the second highest rated motorway services in the poll of over 30k drivers and passengers
The final two spots in the top ten went to Welcome Break’s Corley South in sixth with 99 per cent and Extra’s Leeds Skelton Lake in ninth with 98 per cent.
Welcome Break Sarn Park is the highest rated in Wales with a score of 96 per cent – it placed 39th overall.
In terms of the most-improved motorway service location, the Welcome Break Birchanger Green on the M11 had the biggest increase in overall satisfaction, up from 83 per cent in 2022 to 96 per cent this year.
10 BEST AND WORST RATED MOTORWAY SERVICES
HIGHEST RATED MOTORWAY SERVICES
1. Rugby (Moto): 100%
2. Killington Lake (Roadchef): 99%
3. Annandale Water (Roadchef): 99%
4. Wetherby (Moto): 99%
5. Stafford South (Roadchef): 99%
6. Corley South (Welcome Break): 99%
7. Chester (Roadchef): 99%
8. Reading East (Moto): 99%
9. Leeds Skelton Lake (Extra): 98%
10. Ferrybridge (Moto): 98%
LOWEST RATED MOTORWAY SERVICES
1. Hartshead Moor East (Welcome Break): 84%
2. Toddington North (Moto): 88%
3. Toddington South (Moto): 88%
4. Bridgwater (Moto): 88%
5. Hartshead Moor West (Welcome Break): 88%
6. Lancaster South (Moto): 88%
7. Sedgemoor North (Welcome Break): 89%
8. Cardiff Gate (Welcome Break): 89%
9. Sandbach South (Roadchef): 89%
10. Membury East (Welcome Break): 89%
Source: Transport Focus survey of 30,774 people visiting 120 motorway services in Britain
Lowest rated motorway service stations in Britain revealed
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Welcome Break’s Hartshead Moor East on the M62 was the lowest rated for overall satisfaction with a score of 84 per cent.
Visitors said they are least likely to recommend to friends and family to stop there.
However, ongoing refurbishment to the facilities meant only portable toilets were in place at the time of the survey, meaning the location should perform better in next year’s poll.
One person visiting Hartshead Moor East said: ‘Temporary toilets outside. In wet weather this was a real nuisance.’
Its 84 per cent score is also far from the lowest ever recorded. This came in the survey’s first year (2017) when Heston Eastbound services on the M4 received a 62 per cent satisfaction rating. In 2023, Heston East was rated 28th overall with a satisfaction score of 96 per cent.
Left: Welcome Break’s Hartshead Moor East on the M62 was the lowest rated for overall satisfaction with a score of 84%. Right: Toddington North and South on the M1 were next in the list of worst-scored services, receiving 88% overall from drivers
EV drivers unhappiest with motorway services facilities
One general takeaway from visitors to motorway services is the need for more EV charging facilities.
Electric car owners were the least satisfied across all vehicle groups with an overall satisfaction score of 89 per cent, followed by HGV drivers at 90 per cent.
Other areas highlighted for improvement were value for money, with only two thirds (64 per cent) of visitors thinking the food or drink available to eat in the services was value for money – and just three in five (57 per cent) buying takeaway items happy with the price they paid.
Electric car drivers were least impressed with the nation’s motorway services and their facilities. Many will want to see more ultra-rapid charging devices, such as these Gridserve chargers at Moto Rugby
Around two thirds of disabled users said that services catered well for their impairment, which has also been noted by the watchdog as an item to be addressed by operators in the next 12 months.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘Our survey shows motorway services offer a great experience with friendly and helpful staff and provide drivers with the opportunity to rest, relax and take a break before continuing their journey.
‘But there is still room for improvement, including making sure the range of food and drink on offer is good value for money for visitors as cost of living increases continue to bite.’
Westmorland (operator of Tebay and Gloucester services), Euro Garages and Stop 24 chose not to take part in this year’s survey.
Each motorway service area, including the 72 which are in pairs on either side of the road, were treated individually. This means that results can be different for north and south, or east and westbound services at the same location.
BEST OF MOTORING
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