By Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director for Consumers.
Stephanie Tobyn(ORR Image)
In our annual consumer report, called Measuring Up, we see that there are good signs of improvement but overall, industry must work harder to improve customer service on the railway.
Signs of improvement
We’ve seen good progress made in the area of ticket machines (TVMs) with all 17 train companies that use them committing to ORR’s challenge to introduce a Price Guarantee. This is a significant step forward in providing additional protection and confidence for passengers in this area.
Our research also shows that where assisted travel works as it should, passengers find it a good service with 85% of those booking assistance stating they were satisfied with the level of service received. One area where it fails to deliver is that over two-thirds of potential users are not aware that assistance is available. This further highlights the importance of ORR’s ongoing work with companies to take forward improvement and focus will remain on the development of revised guidance for train and station operators in how to provide assistance to passengers.
Passenger information must get better
A particular area of concern for us is the provision of accurate and timely information to passengers. Information provided to passengers through journey planners and ticket buying systems at times is unreliable and subject to late change. We’ve written to and are meeting with all train companies and ticket retailers to explicitly set out the requirement for passengers to be given up-to-date information irrespective of the operational challenges that they may be facing.
ORR’s focus on compensation and complaints
Our research shows that clear and consistent information on compensation and passenger rights remains a challenging area. We’re continuing to demand improvements from industry and this is a focus of our work in the coming year. With the majority of passengers unhappy with both how train companies handle their complaint and also with the outcome, ORR is working with the industry to support the launch of a rail ombudsman scheme later this year.