Consumer expert panel

We protect and promote the interests of those using and funding Britain's railways. Our consumer expert panel provides independent advice to help us fulfil our role as the railways' safety, economic consumer and competition regulator.

What's the role and purpose of the expert panel?

  • The independent panel will help us ensure our policies and decisions benefit from a sound understanding of consumers and are effective in delivering positive change for rail users.
  • The panel is advisory, helping us to deliver better outcomes for rail consumers by examining or assessing policy or regulation and advising us on consumer interests or issues.
  • The panel's wide range of experience and expertise will help us to understand the issues affecting consumers in other regulated sectors and the wider economy.
  • The panel will complement existing relationships with organisations representing consumers' interests.

How is the panel organised?

  • The panel will meet four times a year to review and discuss issues raised by us or proposed by the panel members.
  • Members are invited for a two year term. Membership may change to ensure a range of expertise relevant to our role and developments in Britain's railways.
  • Agendas and other papers will be available on this page.

What will the panel do?

The panel can review, challenge and advise on our business planning, regulatory policies, policy development, impact assessment and research agenda to help us develop clear and robust evidence of consumer outcomes in rail.

The panel members

The individual members of our panel bring a range of academic, advocacy, consumer research and commercial expertise to support the institutional members' expertise with rail and transport. Individual members currently include:

  • Carol Brennan - is a Reader in Consumer Policy and founding Director of the Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Carol’s research interests include consumer policy, complaint management, dispute resolution, consumer empowerment and customer experience.  With a strong interest in knowledge exchange, Carol’s work bridges the gap between academia and policy/practice.  In addition to publishing regularly in academic journals, Carol has produced consumer policy and consumer dispute resolution reports for organisations including the report Grumbles, gripes and grievances: the role of complaints in transforming public services for the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. She has experience of leading projects to provide continuing professional development for complaint investigators. Carol is chair of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Consumer Panel. She is also Chair of the Qualifications and Awards Board for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.
  • Claire Whyley - is a professional researcher and policy analyst, focussing on consumer behaviour and decision-making, consumer protection and consumer-focussed regulation. She specialises in user-led, evidence-based and impact-focussed policy development, across a range of markets, with a particular interest in vulnerable and excluded consumers. She has delivered a number of research projects aiming to support organisations in putting consumers at the heart of their processes and decision-making, and has developed an e-learning module on consumer empowerment and market conduct. Claire is also a member of a number of other Boards and Consumer Panels, including the Civil Aviation Authority Consumer Panel, the Advertising Advisory Committee, the Finance and Leasing Association Lending Code Board, the Ofgem Stakeholder Engagement and Vulnerable Consumers Incentive Panel and the Board of the Money Advice Trust. She was previously Senior Research Fellow at the Personal Finance Research Centre, Head of Research and Policy at the Welsh Consumer Panel and Deputy Director of Policy at the National Consumer Council.
  • Trisha McAuley - is a recognised consumer expert, having been a former senior executive in national consumer organisations and awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to consumer affairs. She has been an influential public policy leader, working effectively, for over twenty years, with parliaments, governments, regulators, business and public services at strategic level.  Trisha has particular interest and expertise in regulated industries.  Trisha is currently: Board Member of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Chair of Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership; Board Member of Northern Ireland Water; Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland Discipline Board; Member of the Ofgem Gas Network Innovation Competition Panel; Member of the Civil Aviation Authority Consumer Panel; and Member of the Ofgem Consumer Progress Panel.  Trisha has also held former Board roles with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and East Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership.
  • Diane McCrea - has direct experience of developing and delivering strategies and policies that reflect changing needs and aspirations in a range of diverse environments, including water, food, transport, housing, customer service and communications, and publishing.  She has extensive knowledge of evidence based policy, service delivery and improvements for consumers, customers, and the wider public in Wales, the UK, Europe and internationally. She has held a variety of non-executive positions in the public, private and voluntary sectors.  Her current substantive post is as Chair of Natural Resources Wales - the largest Welsh Government Sponsored Body formed in April 2013, largely taking over the functions of the Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and the Environment Agency in Wales, as well as certain Welsh Government functions.  NRW makes sure that the environment and natural resources of Wales are sustainably maintained, sustainably enhanced and sustainably used, now and in the future. Previously she was Deputy Chair of the Consumer Council for Water for England and Wales and Chair of the Wales Committee, for which she was awarded an MBE in 2016.
  • Ray Kemp - is an independent consultant who specializes in the public understanding of risk. Based in the UK near Cambridge, Ray works internationally. Until last year he was Honorary Professorial Fellow, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, and also Adjunct Professor of Risk and Sustainability at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. He is a Past President of the Society for Risk Analysis, Europe, and previously held the position of Honorary Visiting Professor of Risk Communication at the University of Surrey, Guildford, in the UK.
  • Rob Sheldon - has been involved with consumer research in the transport sector for forty years. He started life as a transport economist but soon realised that there was a need to understand customer views and motivations to help develop more workable strategies and policies. Rob is the MD of Accent, a research consultancy that operates across a number of regulated sectors including energy, water, post, health and finance in addition to all aspects of the transport sector. Rob introduced the stated preference methodology to the UK in the 1970s on a path-breaking project for the then British Railways Board and has worked on over 1000 applications since with the vast majority being within the transport sector.

The panel also comprises institutional members that bring a range of sector specific expertise and research to understand the different needs and experiences of passengers that rely on Britain's railways:

  • Transport Focus and London TravelWatch are the independent voice of the passenger, ensuring passengers' views are heard by government and industry.
  • The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) advises government on the transport needs of disabled people, advocating for an accessible transport system.