Latest Rail News

17.11.16

TOCs will now have to monitor passenger compensation awareness

Four months after the ORR promised to continue its drive to improve compensation, the DfT has revealed it will monitor rail franchisees to check that they are keeping passengers informed of their right to compensation.

The department published its response today to an ORR report into passenger compensation, following a super-complaint from consumer group Which? in December last year.

Back in March, the ORR had found that around 80% of passengers do not claim the compensation they are entitled to, and called for national measures to inform passengers of their rights.

Today, the DfT said that over the next six months it will require franchisees to measure levels of passengers’ awareness of compensation, and deliver a report setting out what steps they will take to ensure passengers are aware of their rights. It will then repeat the exercise after a further 18 months.

Rail minister Paul Maynard, who wrote for the last edition of RTM, said: “We are determined to ensure passengers are confident in the service and value they will get if they choose to travel by rail. Of course, we must constantly strive to improve punctuality but if things go wrong, passengers need to know that they will be compensated fairly.

“We have been working with partners in the rail industry to ensure passengers are aware of their right to recompense for disruption and, at the same time, we are making the claim process simpler and swifter so that it is easier and more attractive to apply.”

The department also promised to continue rolling out a requirement for bidders for rail franchises to use all reasonable endeavours to ensure passengers are aware of their right to compensation.

Where there is no franchise competition in the near future, the DfT will work with the incumbent operator to bring in the changes.

The RDG has launched a national campaign to make passengers more aware of their rights, and is currently preparing a consistent set of minimum standards for operators to follow in raising awareness of compensation.

The DfT said it would support the RDG in developing these standards and expects franchisees to take part in the campaign.

However, it argued that it did not believe there was a problem with consumer interests being “overlooked” under the current franchising system.

The department promised to review, with stakeholders, how well current and future regulation ensures passengers receive proper compensation, but warned that any changes to regulation would need to be proportionate and cost-based.

In addition, it predicted that the majority of passengers will continue to claim compensation through operators’ Passenger Charter schemes, with the new Consumer Rights Act being used as a last resort if passengers aren’t satisfied with the operator’s offer.

Separately, the DfT, in partnership with Transport Focus, released figures showing that the percentage of passengers claiming compensation for their most recent delayed journey has risen to 35% in 2015-16.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said the rail industry has “made some improvements” but still had “a way to go”, including making the process of claiming compensation easier.

The research found that over half of eligible passengers weren’t aware they could claim compensation or didn’t even think about it, and just 38% were satisfied with the train company alerting them to their right to claim compensation.

Of the 16 out of 20 franchisees who provided data, £45m was paid in total. Virgin, which has introduced automatic delay repay and pledged to fulfil the legal obligation to pay passengers compensation in money, paid out the most, with £13m on its West Coast route and £11m on the East Coast.

The DfT has also promised to raise the threshold for delays for which compensation can be paid from 30 minutes to 15, starting on Southern and then moving to other franchises.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said train companies were "raising passengers' awareness of their compensation rights" and offering "improved rights and new arrangements" for claiming compensation.

(Image c. Johnny Green from PA Images)

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Comments

Manchester Mike   17/11/2016 at 17:33

About time!

Manchester Mike   17/11/2016 at 17:33

About time!

Noam Bleicher   18/11/2016 at 14:17

If they apply the 15-min window to Cross Country, I'll be quids in, as 15 min is below the usual 20-min delay XC trains incur as they trundle along behind stopping trains out of Birmingham New Street. The 30-min window, just out of reach, has always been a bit frustrating.

Kev   18/11/2016 at 14:34

delays happen. thats life, how about some compensation from the highways agency for when the M1 gets closed due to an incident or there is congestion on the M25...why do aircraft, trains and boats get the treatment?? road vehicles NONE....as for this compensation drive..personally i have never bothered...could never be bothered..i always get to where im going, i recall being stuck outside euston for 3-4 hours at a time when there were bomb alerts...after all that trouble - delays have never bothered me, on roads rail air etc..i get to where im going....

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