Britain’s worst service stations revealed as drivers rate sites for facilities, staff value and EV charging

Welcome Break sites top table of unsatisfactory motorway stops as survey of 31,000 drivers also reveals the country’s best rest areas

Britain’s worst motorway service stations have been revealed in a new report based on motorists’ experiences.

Welcome Break’s Hartshead Moor East was rated the country’s worst location in the study which asked more than 31,000 motorists for their views on service stations in England, Scotland and Wales. The West Yorkshire location on the M62 near Huddersfield scored an overall satisfaction rating of just 80%.

In contrast, Moto’s Rugby services on the M6 in Warwickshire scored a perfect 100% from users in the study by passenger watchdog Transport Focus. It was the only location to receive a perfect score, with the average satisfaction rating around the country a respectable 93%.

Visitors to services were asked for their views on the toilets, staff, value of the food and drink, electric vehicle charging, and the impact their visit had on their mood. For the first time, the survey included service locations in Scotland and Wales, creating a ranking of 119 locations.

Hartshead Moor East scored the lowest rating among 119 service stations (Photo: Google)Hartshead Moor East scored the lowest rating among 119 service stations (Photo: Google)
Hartshead Moor East scored the lowest rating among 119 service stations (Photo: Google)

While most service areas performed well and several achieved ratings of 99%, a handful stood out as underperforming, leaving visitors dissatisfied by the facilities, services and costs. Just ahead of Hartshead Moor East, three service stations scored a satisfaction rating of 83%, including two on the southbound M6. Lancaster South and Charnock Richard South, both on the M6 were joined by Birchanger Green on the M11 at the bottom of the results. Just above them was Warwick South on the M40, with a satisfaction score of 84%.

Four of the five worst rated locations are run by Welcome Break. In a statement, the group said: “We are very disappointed with the results from our site at Hartshead Moor East. We have received the detailed comments from Transport Focus and we will be working closely with our teams to address the feedback from the report as well as prioritising the site for future investment.”

Poor value for money

Although drivers were mostly satisfied with facilities such as toilets and the range of food and drink on offer, a large proportion were less happy about service station prices. Just 63% said the food and drink on offer was good value. Different groups of drivers were also divided on the quality of services with satisfaction ratings lower among HGV drivers (88%) and disabled motorists (915), and 38% of disabled visitors saying sites did not cater well for their impairment.

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “As many people gear up for a half-term getaway, motorway services provide a great place to stop and take a break. Many of us, when we think services, think about stopping for a toilet break – it’s reassuring to see that these are consistently highly rated.

“Our survey shows motorway service operators deliver good overall customer experience and facilities, but visitors don’t always feel they get value for money. Services continue to do a good job of their most important safety function – allowing drivers to rest and relax before getting back on the road.”

AA president Edmund King said the high-quality provision of electric vehicle chargers at Rugby was “the sort of facilities all motorway service areas should have”. He added: “In terms of road safety, it is essential that drivers take a break at least every two-and-a-half hours, so it is vital that attractive service areas with all the facilities encourage drivers to stop.”

Britain’s five worst service stations

  1. Hartshead Moor East (M62): 80%
  2. Lancaster South (M6): 83%
  3. Charnock Richard South (M6): 83%
  4. Birchanger Green (M11): 83%
  5. Warwick South (M40): 84%

Britain’s five best service stations

  1. Rugby (M6): 100%
  2. Donington Park (M1): 99%
  3. Blackburn with Darwen (M65): 99%
  4. Strensham North (M5): 99%
  5. Medway East (M2): 99%
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