Commenting on the announcement that First Trenitalia has been chosen to run the West Coast Partnership rail franchise, David Sidebottom, director of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:
“Passengers on the West Coast network told Transport Focus that their key priorities for improvement are improving value for money, getting a seat on the train and enjoying a more frequent, reliable and punctual services.
“Passengers also want to see a fare structure that is transparent and a simple, seamless ticketing process. Free WiFi, better luggage storage and increased staff visibility are also key priorities for passengers who will use the West Coast Partnership. It is good to see efforts to meet many of these key passenger aspirations at the heart of the new franchise with First Trenitalia.
“We also expect to see the promised improvements to delay repay meet the aspirations set out in the Transport Focus ‘Make Delay Pay’ campaign – with a clear commitment from the operator to ensure passengers are made aware of their right to claim and an easy, automated claims process.
“First Trenitalia has a real opportunity to shape the future and integrate the smooth running of HS2 with the West Coast Partnership. This is an exciting moment for passengers, with the promise of a new high-speed line that has state-of-the-art trains, more seats and faster journey times. However, the new operator must communicate effectively with passengers about the engineering work needed to build HS2 not least at Euston where works are already underway to deliver long term improvements that we know passengers want.”
“Transport Focus looks forward to working closely with First Trenitalia to ensure the needs of passengers feature strongly at the heart of the new operation and any major decisions about HS2.”