What we do for consumers
We undertake a range of work to improve the passenger experience in areas such as compensation, retailing of train tickets and passenger accessibility.
Our most important job is to improve the service which rail passengers receive and to ensure that the rail network operates safely. We do this by regulating the company which runs the rail infrastructure, Network Rail, to deliver better punctuality and reliability, ensuring that more trains run on time and fewer services are cancelled. We also enforce health and safety law and press the rail industry for continual improvement in its safety performance for passengers and rail workers alike.
It is also our job to improve the information which passengers receive to plan their journey, to ensure that they get a fair deal when buying tickets (although we don't set the price of fares, which is done by the government).
Train companies have a number of passenger facing obligations and it is important that passengers get the service to which they are entitled.
We oversee a number of these obligations which sit in train companies’ licences and in general consumer law (other sit, for example in train companies’ franchise agreements with Government).
Under their licences, train companies are required:
- to have complaints handling procedures
- to have policies in place to assist passengers with disabilities
- to manage and provide timetable and service information, particularly during disruption.
Train companies (and third parties, such as other retailers of train tickets) are also required to comply with general consumer law, which covers things like unfair and misleading practices and unfair contract terms. Our annual rail consumer report shows how the rail industry is delivering for passengers. It focuses on help for disabled passengers, complaints handling and passenger information: Measuring Up - Annual rail consumer report.
Train operating companies (TOCs) have a target to process delay compensation claims within one month of receipt. This is specified in condition 33.2 of the National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCoT). We monitor TOCs performance in this area and will contact the company where we have concerns.
We also publish the results of our monitoring quarterly.
The publications and updates section below contains copies of correspondence with train operators.
Rail passenger compensation and refund rights
On 21 December 2015 Which? submitted a super-complaint to us raising concerns that most delayed rail passengers are not aware of, nor apply for, the compensation to which they are entitled. This report sets out the main findings of our research to understand passengers' awareness of their compensation and refund rights; provides an explanation of these rights; and an overview of what is being done to help raise passengers' awareness of their rights and make it easier for them to exercise their rights.
Ticket machines are designed to provide rail passengers with the opportunity to make quick and easy ticket purchases at the train station as an alternative to using other means such as ticket offices.
A summary of the passengers' experience of planning journeys, choosing rail, buying tickets and using the railway.
This is our annual rail consumer report showing how the rail industry is delivering for passengers. It focuses on help for disabled passengers, complaints handling and passenger information.