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ORR promises greater scrutiny of franchise compensation

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has promised to continue its drive to improve compensation offered to passengers for delays.

After consumer pressure group Which? highlighted the issue by making a super-complaint to the ORR, the regulator conducted an investigation, including a mystery shopping exercise, and produced a report saying that as many as 80% of passengers do not claim compensation.

The ORR urged TOCs to do more to ensure passengers are clearly informed on when and how they can claim compensation, including through a national campaign, plain English on compensation forms and websites and better training of staff.

In a new blog post on the ORR’s website, Stephanie Tobyn, the ORR’s deputy director for consumers, said: “We have been working with train companies across the country to improve the information provided about your rights, and to make the process of claiming as easy as possible.”

She said that the ORR has now been working with train companies, representatives and governments to implement the changes, and has secured commitments from train companies to make information about claiming compensation more easily available and the claims process more straightforward.

The programme of improvements should begin with better information being provided online, at stations and on board trains.

Train companies are also considering other improvements, such as allowing passengers to claim and receive automatic compensation through mobile apps, smart card technology and automatic refunds.

Tobyn said that the ORR will now carry out an audit of printed and online information about delay compensation and another mystery shopping exercise.

The ORR’s message is clear – the issue of passenger compensation is not going to be kicked into the long grass. Hopefully the regulator’s drive to ensure that its recommendations are implemented will lead to passengers seeing a real improvement in how they can access compensation.

(Image c. Johnny Green from PA Images)

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