Rail industry signs up to plan to improve passenger information during disruption

23 September 2014

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) today welcomes the commitment of the rail industry to improve passenger information during disruption and sets out what it expects to see in a new action plan to be published in November.

This follows concerns raised in the Passenger Focus report 'Passenger information when trains are disrupted,' which was commissioned by ORR to understand whether passengers receive timely, accurate and accessible information when they face delays to their journeys.

In 2012, ORR introduced a new condition on the provision of information for passengers into train operator and station licences. To ensure the code is delivering benefits for passengers, and to address issues highlighted in the report, ORR has worked with the rail industry to develop a list of improvement actions to ensure passengers get the information they need when services are disrupted, at the right time, and through appropriate channels.

ORR expects the improvement plan to require train operating companies to:

  • Provide accurate and timely information on train company websites as quickly as possible to allow customers to plan accurate or revised journeys.
  • Make announcements on how to claim compensation if the delay threshold of a train has been reached - with claim forms for compensation distributed on board trains and at stations where possible.
  • Make manual announcements with specific details of the disruption rather than automated ones.
  • Ensure all staff on platforms and trains have access to the latest information, which they can share with passengers.
  • Provide explanations on the cause of delay and any knock on effects.
  • Send automatic compensation alerts to passengers who have booked online if their trains were delayed.

ORR will closely monitor the industry's progress and the pace of delivery against the action plan.

ORR's director of economic regulation, John Larkinson said:

Passengers are telling us that they need information so they can plan ahead before they begin their journeys. They need to understand the impact of disruptions on their journeys before they get to a station, to be able to adapt their travel plans when things go wrong.
Improvements have been made in the provision of information to passengers through the introduction of phone apps, better Twitter updates and by giving free access to real time information to app developers. However, more needs to be done.
Once the industry has published its full action plan with clear dates and responsibilities for delivery, ORR will closely monitor the rail industry's progress against this – to ensure passengers are empowered with the right information during disruption.

Notes to editors

  1. ORR is the independent safety and economic regulator for Great Britain's railways. Follow ORR on Twitter @railregulation.
  2. In 2012, ORR introduced a new condition on the provision of information for passengers into train operator and station licences. The purpose was to ensure that passengers could receive appropriate, accurate and timely information about train services so they can plan and make journeys with a reasonable degree of assurance. ATOC subsequently published a code of practice and operators published their own local plans to show how they would comply with this. 
  3. In November 2013 ORR commissioned specific research by Passenger Focus into passengers' views of the information they received during disruption. The rail industry also agreed to carry out its own review into the code of practice. 
  4. The research by Passenger Focus has been published today and can be viewed online at: http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/research/publications/passenger-information-when-trains-are-disrupted
  5. The research shows that passengers are still concerned about the lack of reliable information –becoming frustrated when front line staff have less or conflicting information than they have on their mobile phones and when tickets are sold for trains that are not running. 
  6. The findings also show that only 17% of passengers were aware of disruptions to their journey before arriving at the station – the majority got their information from apps and websites. By contrast, 67% were made aware at the station by display boards and announcements and 40% were informed of disruptions during their journey while on the train.
  7. ORR has written to Chris Scoggins, CEO, National Rail Enquiries setting out the latest position on PIDD and requesting that a draft action plan is published by November 2014. ORR will closely monitor delivery against this action plan. The letter can be viewed on the ORR website at: http://www.orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/14746/passenger-information-during-disruption-2014-09-22.pdf