Rail service improvements and disruptions


TOCs still not doing enough to keep customers informed of timetable changes

Train companies urgently need to improve how they keep passengers informed about train timetable changes, the ORR has said in a letter sent to TOCs today.

Back in February, Network Rail announced it was unable to confirm finalised timetables until six weeks in advance rather than the expected 12 weeks.

At the time, the regulator’s boss, Joanna Whittington, said her organisation was concerned about the impact this could have on travel, and urged NR to explain the arrangements put in place to minimise the impact on customers. She promised to monitor the infrastructure owner’s progress against this proposed recovery plan.

At the time, the ORR also wrote to train companies to clarify that they must ensure passengers continue to receive the best information available so the can plan journeys accordingly.

The regulator has observed some improvements since then, such as better signposting of late notice changes to timetables, but it argued “there is still much more that needs to be done to help passengers.”

For example, National Rail Enquiries provides train-specific updates and warnings, but this is not always the case on trains companies’ websites.

“ORR’s monitoring has shown that train companies are not always giving passengers good enough information to help them plan their journey,” said Stephanie Tobyn, deputy director of consumers. “This is not acceptable and that is why we have written to all train companies requiring them to set out how they will put this right.”

The ORR is therefore requiring each TOC to outline the actions they’re taking and will review these to assess if they are sufficient. It will monitor progress and keep the option for further action under review.

Its investigation into NR and how timetabling issues arose in the first place, as well as the progress being made to get it back to normal, is still ongoing.

The ORR will shortly publish a report on how train companies are keeping passengers informed of potential disruption and is coordinating research findings with Transport Focus.

Top image: VictorHuang


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