Regulator reports on rail companies’ work for passengers

2 June 2016

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has today reported for the first time on how the rail industry is meeting its obligations to provide accurate and timely information, help disabled passengers, manage complaints and comply with consumer law.

ORR’s report ‘Measuring Up’ is based on extensive research, workshops, and engagement with train companies, Network Rail and passenger representatives. Working with the rail industry, ORR is establishing a robust and comprehensive monitoring framework for the rail industry’s consumer responsibilities.

The report highlights:

  • Improved information on websites, mobile apps, and alerts, which are helping passengers to plan and make their journeys, particularly when they face delays. However, latest research shows that passengers still rate the information they receive as ‘poor’. The rail industry needs to continue to deliver improvement plans and assess how passengers are benefitting.
  • The number of passengers using the ‘Passenger Assist’ service to make bookings for assistance from station and train staff is gradually increasing. The industry now needs to start actively monitoring and assessing the quality and consistency of the assistance provided.
  • The number of complaints about rail services is falling. Not all train companies are meeting targets to respond to 95% of complaints within 20 working days, but some companies have committed to meeting even tougher standards.
  • Millions of tickets are purchased each year through vending machines (TVMs) without problems and the industry is investing in better machines. However, there is scope for further improvements in the information provided by TVMs, such as clearer information on ticket restrictions and less use of jargon. The rail industry has committed to an improvement plan to enhance TVMs over the next six months.

John Larkinson, ORR’s Director of Railway Markets and Economics, said:

ORR protects the interests of rail and road users, and our focus is on the delivery of the things that matter for passengers, such as improving safety, value for money and performance.
Our new consumer report dramatically increases the transparency of how the rail companies are meeting their obligations to provide accurate and timely information, help disabled passengers, manage complaints and comply with consumer law.
The rail industry is delivering tangible improvements in all of these areas, but the picture is not consistently good. This annual report will now allow us to track progress.

The report sets out how the industry delivered key obligations for passengers, and ORR will be monitoring progress and reporting on this every year. ORR is looking at how information held by other parties, including franchising authorities, can be incorporated into next year’s report, providing a fuller picture of the service passengers are receiving.

Notes to editors

  1. Read the full ‘Measuring Up’ report here: http://orr.gov.uk/publications/reports/annual-rail-consumer-report
  2. The Office of Rail and Road is the UK’s rail regulator and strategic roads monitor for England. Follow us @railandroad. Share your views at #MeasuringUp
  3. We have recently made recommendations to help rail passengers get more of the compensation they are due from delays. Further information is available at: http://orr.gov.uk/news-and-media/press-releases/2016/improvements-needed-to-help-passengers-get-compensation-for-train-delays
  4. ORR sets obligations for passengers’ consumer rights in the licences we grant to train operators and Network Rail. These set out clear requirements for the provision of information to assist with journey planning including during times of disruption, access and travel assistance for disabled passengers and an effective and accessible process for managing passenger complaints. Train operators also need to comply with consumer laws for retailing and the provision of information on consumer rights, such as compensation schemes for train delays.
  5. Passenger Information During Disruption research published on 19 May 2016 by the Rail Delivery Group can be found here: http://www.raildeliverygroup.com/about-us/publications/108-pidd.html