Over the last year, rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) identified and responded to almost 40 cases where it felt that the conduct of a train company in Great Britain was potentially harming the interests of passengers.
According to its 2019-20 Annual Rail Consumer report, the ORR feels that these direct interventions provided tangible improvements at a local level.
In its Annual Rail Consumer report, the ORR details the breadth and depth of its work to support better rail customer service by highlighting where train companies have made progress, where action has been necessary, and provides a summary of future planned activities.
The report includes information on the ORR’s work to:
- Improve the information provided on websites to ensure it is clear and easily understood so that passengers can purchase the best ticket for their journey, including the messaging available where the train timetable has yet to be confirmed, as well as where there may be rail replacement services;
- Challenge the industry to work together to publish a Passenger Information Improvement Plan, which has now been drafted and shows the industry is committed to making enduring network wide improvements so that passengers can get timely, accurate and complete information, including during disruption;
- Push forward changes to Accessible Travel Policies that are designed to bring greater quality, consistency and reliability to the experience of passengers that require additional assistance to plan and make journeys with confidence;
- Intervene and improve performance where companies failed to respond to complaints within 20 working days.
The ORR also received almost 55,000 responses to its survey on passenger satisfaction with train companies’ complaints handling. The ORR will use this information to comprehensively review complaints handling in the coming months, highlighting the best and weakest performing train companies and drive companies to deliver improvements where necessary.
Stephanie Tobyn, deputy director for consumers at ORR, said: “Train companies have responded well to the unparalleled challenges brought by covid-19 and, while we have remained pragmatic in our approach during this time, we have also been clear that companies must ensure that meeting passengers’ needs remains at the forefront of their thinking.
“We have challenged weaknesses in processes, operational practices and in staff training to bring about improvements in all areas of the passengers’ journey and where we have taken action, it has brought immediate benefits for passengers and has also helped shape our future decisions.
“We remain as focused as ever to bring about change in 2020-21 and work is already underway to introduce a delay compensation licence condition, and alongside this report today we have published a review of the Rail Ombudsman scheme after 12 months of its commencement which provides a clear pathway for improving those arrangements for passengers.”