ORR review of Southern trains leads to travel assistance changes

10 November 2017

ORR has concluded its review of Southern train’s customer service for passengers needing help using trains, which has led to changes in Southern’s processes.

ORR first engaged with Southern ahead of its planned changes to staffing arrangements in January 2017 to assess whether or not its processes remained compliant with its Disabled People’s Protection Policy. We wanted to understand the procedures in place in the exceptional circumstances where a second person was not on the train to assist. Once the staff changes were in place, ORR increased its monitoring to see if the arrangements worked in practice.

The monitoring identified where the availability of staff to provide assistance on trains was below what Southern had originally estimated. This affected 48 passengers between February and May 2017, and Southern made alternative arrangements so that all these passengers were able to complete their journey.

ORR is satisfied that Southern has made changes to its processes to ensure continued compliance with its Disabled People’s Protection Policy. These changes include introducing a shift coordinator to ensure there are sufficient staff available to provide assistance and reviewing agency staff training on the use of ramps. There is also a dedicated team now in place to assist passengers via help points in stations.

ORR will shortly publish its research findings about passengers’ experience of receiving assistance from train companies and will be consulting with industry and disability groups on areas where improvement in such services can be made

We will continue to monitor that passengers receive the level of service that train companies have committed to provide. We will take action where we have evidence that this is not the case.

Commenting on the outcome of the review, Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director, Consumers said:

"All passengers deserve to travel with confidence. Southern has responded well to our concerns and made improvements.

"It is important that all train companies continually work to make it easier for everyone to travel by train. That is why we will be talking to industry and disability groups about areas we will outline for potential improvement."

Notes to editors

  1. Our letter to Southern.
  2. Disabled People’s Protection Policy
    Train and station operators are required by their operating licences to establish and comply with a Disabled People's Protection Policy (DPPP). This sets out the arrangements and assistance that an operator will provide to protect the interests of disabled people using its services and to facilitate such use. ORR approves these policies and monitors compliance with them.
  3. ORR protects the interests of rail and road users; improving the safety, value and performance of railways and roads, today and in the future. Follow us @railandroad.

For further information please contact Lisa O'Brien, Lisa.OBrien@orr.gsi.gov.uk, 020 7282 2188.