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Passenger complaints decreasing, but highest on Virgin West Coast

The first Office of Rail and Road (ORR) report on how the rail industry is meeting its obligations to passengers has revealed that complaints from passengers are generally decreasing as operating companies try to meet their obligations.

The figures confirm previous findings showing that passenger complaints are decreasing. Of the 18 TOCs which could supply data, 14 received fewer complaints for every 100,000 passenger journeys in the second quarter of 2015-16 than in 2014-15.

However, Virgin West Coast had a much higher number of complaints than any other TOC, with 198.2.

In contrast, Arriva Trains Wales, the TOC with the next highest number of complaints, received just 62.8, a figure unchanged from 2013-14.

RTM contacted Virgin for a statement but it didn’t respond at the time of publication.

The most common area of complaint about TOCs was punctuality and reliability, following the publication of the worst PPM figures in a decade for UK rail in 2015-16.

Performance table 2

The report, ‘Measuring Up’, follows a commitment by the ORR in its business plan to more closely monitor how the industry is responding to complaints.

It recommended that the industry improve information provided to passengers about delays, make ticket vending machines easy to use, and start actively monitoring the quality of assistance for disabled passengers, following an increase in the number of passengers requesting it.

John Larkinson, ORR’s director of railway markets and economics, said: “ORR protects the interests of rail and road users, and our focus is on the delivery of the things that matter for passengers, such as improving safety, value for money and performance.

“Our new consumer report dramatically increases the transparency of how the rail companies are meeting their obligations to provide accurate and timely information, help disabled passengers, manage complaints and comply with consumer law.

“The rail industry is delivering tangible improvements in all of these areas, but the picture is not consistently good. This annual report will now allow us to track progress.”

UPDATE 3.45pm

A Virgin spokesperson said complaints were "not the best way to measure passenger satisfaction" and that Virgin had a higher number of complaints because it made it easier for passengers to provide feedback.

(Image c. Paul Bigland)

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