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New licence obligations signed

All train companies have signed up to new licence obligations which will ensure passengers receive appropriate, accurate and timely information, allowing them to then plan their journeys accordingly.

The regulator, ORR, will be able to take action against any organisation consistently failing to meet these obligations.

The new code of practice requires the information to be well-structures, concise and jargon-free. Message should contain information on the problem and its impact and advise passengers accordingly.

An initial message to be sent to customer-facing staff within 10 minutes of an incident being notified to a control office. If this incident results in major disruption then subsequent messages should be updated at least every 20 minutes.

ORR chief executive, Richard Price, said: “ORR has repeatedly made clear that rail passengers should receive reliable information so that they can plan journeys and make informed decisions, especially when rail services are disrupted. It is striking that currently only one third of passengers think delays are handled well.

“The provision of good passenger information is a fundamental requirement, not an optional ‘add-on’. Good performers have nothing to fear, but poor performers will not be allowed to undermine the industry as a whole.

“We look forward to working with the rail industry as it gets on with the job of meeting passengers’ expectations, ensuring that train operators, working with station managers and Network Rail, meet the standards set out in their own code of practice on passenger information.”

Michael Roberts, chief executive of ATOC said: “For a number of years now significant amounts of time and money have been invested in providing better information for passengers. Real progress has been made but we know that more needs to be done, which is why operators will continue to work with the rest of the industry to improve things further.”

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive added: “In a sense the work really starts here. The rail industry now has to knuckle down to delivering better information on platforms, trains and websites when there are delays. The rail industry must demonstrate that the quality of information is improving and that passenger satisfaction is improving.”

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