Train companies brought to task almost 40 times by rail regulator in 2019-20

7 July 2020

This year the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has identified and responded to almost 40 cases where the conduct of a train company in Great Britain was potentially harming the interests of passengers. These direct interventions have provided tangible improvements at a local level and are highlighted in the 2019-20 Annual Rail Consumer report published today (7 July).

The Annual Rail Consumer report illustrates the breadth and depth of ORR’s work to support better rail customer service by highlighting where train companies have made progress, where action has been necessary, and provides a summary of future planned activities.

In 2019-20 ORR’s work included steps to:

  • Improve the information provided on websites to ensure it is clear and easily understood so that passengers can purchase the best ticket for their journey, including the messaging available where the train timetable has yet to be confirmed, as well as where there may be rail replacement services;
  • Challenge the industry to work together to publish a Passenger Information Improvement Plan. We are pleased to have received a draft of this plan and it shows the industry is committed to making enduring network wide improvements so that passengers can get timely, accurate and complete information, including during disruption;
  • Push forward changes to Accessible Travel Policies that are designed to bring greater quality, consistency and reliability to the experience of passengers that require additional assistance to plan and make journeys with confidence. Most companies have now revised their policies in line with this guidance; and
  • Intervene and improve performance where companies failed to respond to complaints within 20 working days.

We also received almost 55,000 responses to our survey on passenger satisfaction with train companies’ complaints handling. This will enable ORR to comprehensively review complaints handling in the coming months, highlighting the best and weakest performing train companies and drive companies to deliver improvements where necessary.

Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director for Consumers at ORR said:

"Train companies have responded well to the unparalleled challenges brought by covid-19 and while we have remained pragmatic in our approach during this time we have also been clear that companies must ensure that meeting passengers’ needs remains at the forefront of their thinking.

"We have challenged weaknesses in processes, operational practices and in staff training to bring about improvements in all areas of the passengers’ journey and where we have taken action, it has brought immediate benefits for passengers and has also helped shape our future decisions.

"We remain as focused as ever to bring about change in 2020-21 and work is already underway to introduce a delay compensation licence condition, and alongside this report today we have published a review of the Rail Ombudsman scheme after 12 months of its commencement which provides a clear pathway for improving those arrangements for passengers."

Notes to editors

  1. Annual Rail Consumer Report
  2. The railway industry has felt the effects of Covid-19 from the latter part of March 2020 onwards. Whilst the focus of this report is April 2019 to March 2020, we have noted in the report the impact that Covid-19 has had on the industry and how we have responded to the pandemic in the consumer areas for which we are responsible.
  3. In 2019-20 ORR took action in a number of issues concerning assisted travel including when a passenger was unable to alight at their destination station even though staff had been informed assistance was required, and more recently when a key worker was allegedly refused assistance due to physical distancing rules during Covid-19.
  4. Assisted Travel Policy Guidance
  5. ORR also intervened on numerous occasions regarding issues such as wrong information being displayed on platform screens, trains disappearing from screens before they had arrived, and tickets being sold for a period before the station was actually opened to passengers. ORR asked industry to come together to set out how it will bring about network-wide improvements to the provision of passenger information. This will be delivered in 2020.
  6. Train and station operators are required to respond to 95% of complaints within 20 working days.
  7. Delay compensation licence condition
  8. Review of the Rail Ombudsman
  9. Complaints handling satisfaction statistics