Measuring Up, rail performance from a consumer viewpoint

24 August 2017

By Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director for Consumers, Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

Stephanie TobynAs part of our remit, ORR holds the rail industry to account for delivering high levels of performance and customer service.

With the consumer in mind, we look at how rail companies and Network Rail perform in a number of key areas that directly impact passengers’ experience of the railways, including ticket retailing, passenger information, passenger assistance, and complaints and compensation.

We set out these findings in our annual “Measuring Up” report, the summary of ORR’s work in the area of consumer experience, and we use this to inform the rail industry including train companies, passenger organisations and government, of train operators’ and Network Rail’s performance in these key passenger areas.

This year we saw areas of good performance, and our recommendations being implemented. For example, there are signs of good practice in improving clarity of information to help customers buy the right ticket at the right price from ticket vending machines, and we’re looking for train companies to focus their efforts on adopting this good practice. Eleven train companies have also acted on our recommendation to introduce a price guarantee for those who overpay for their ticket when purchased this way.

There are also, however, areas where we have seen little improvement and still much work to do to fulfil their obligations and provide an all-round, top-class service to their passengers.

Together with train operators, we commissioned independent research on passenger satisfaction. This focused on with how complaints are handled, we found generally low levels of satisfaction with both the process of complaints handling and the outcome achieved. In this area, some companies consistently performed better than others, and we will further explore why some train companies are consistently performing better than others, share good practice and raise standards in this area.

Reports such as Measuring Up are by no means the end of the road; progress continues past their publication, challenges are met and others emerge as the railways and their passengers needs change and evolve.

This is why an important part of our work is to maintain high levels of engagement with the industry on the issues we identify. In particular, we are currently visiting all train operators to meet directly with Managing Directors and senior management to discuss some of the findings of our report and, more generally, set out the focus of our consumer work.

You can read Measuring Up, ORR’s annual rail consumer report, on our website, where you will also find a shorter summary of the report and a number of case studies of the work that we have being doing for passengers in this area.