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Automatic compensation to be rolled out on Northern, TPE and East Anglia shortly

Several franchises have made commitments to the DfT to pay automatic compensation to customers in some way this year, the department has told an influential group of MPs.

Addressing the Transport Select Committee inquiry about rail compensation, Simon Smith, director of passenger service design at the DfT, said that the competitive bid process of franchising had now led to positive work being delivered to encourage operators to do everything they can to compensate customers.

“For several franchises, we’ve had commitments to pay automatic compensation to customers in some way, in some circumstances,” Smith stated. “That will be rolled out this year on Northern, East Anglia and TransPennine Express (TPE) to passengers with a season ticket who’ve registered their details, as well as advance ticket holders.”

He also explained that Northern and TPE have committed to a scheme that will see them pay cash into the customer improvement fund should the amount they receive in compensation come to less than the amount they assumed it would be in their bids for the franchises, in an attempt to ensure operators are paying back to customers whether they are active in claiming compensation or not.

Rail minister Paul Maynard also highlighted the need for transparency from operators in the delivery of their compensation schemes to customers.

He commented that while a Transport Focus survey found that 35% of customers rightfully claimed from operators for delayed and cancelled services, which was an increase from 12% in its previous survey, this was “progress, but by no means satisfactory progress”.

“Since Transport Focus’ research came out, there’s been much more focus in the minds of passengers on compensation, not least because of what’s been occurring on GTR,” Maynard said.

“I hope we will see it going up next time Transport Focus does its research. ORR is working closely with rail operating companies, and we’ve asked every TOC to do a report on what they are doing to improve access to compensation for passengers.

He added: “The industry should ensure that all passengers have the opportunity to claim compensation in an as straight forward and easy to understand way as possible.

“That’s why we added into the franchise agreement this contract of all reasonable endeavours, which asks ‘are the TOCS doing everything they could and should to let passengers know their rights under delay repay?’”

The issue of ensuring visibility of compensation schemes was also raised by Anthony Smith, CEO of Transport Focus, who argued that operators needed to use less “restrictive” language when communicating how to claim compensation.

“The wording is still way too restrictive,” Smith, who wrote for the Dec/Jan issue of RTM about this issue, said. “Customers are told ‘you can use the railway if we let you, but we’ll catch you out if you have done anything wrong’. The language is just wrong.

“It doesn’t reflect what happens in practice where a lot of goodwill gestures go on, so why not just reflect that rather than have this very legalistic, tangled language which puts people off?”

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at Rail Delivery Group, added: “We accept that there is more we can do to be clearer to customers around the language and the communications we provide.”

This follows news last month from consumer champion Which? who called for an end to ‘unlawful’ TOC compensation schemes being used by operators.

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Andrew Gwilt   21/03/2017 at 10:41

Greater Anglia you meant. But yes I like the sound of it.

David   21/03/2017 at 13:44

No, the franchise area is called East Anglia.

Andrew Gwilt   21/03/2017 at 16:34

Ah now I get it because Abellio have extended the franchise to 9 years and it was called the Greater Anglia franchise but yes as it was extended to 2024 it became known as the East Anglia franchise.

Anglia "Norwich" Commuter.   21/03/2017 at 17:03

Still can not wait for new the trains for East Anglia to be delivered so that we can get rid of the rubbish rolling stocks that Greater Anglia have spent £millions on improving the rolling stocks such as Class 360's, Class 379's, Class 153's, Class 156's, Class 170's, Class 317's, Class 321's and Class 90's Mk3's Intercity. I REALLY WANT NEW TRAINS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE FOR EAST ANGLIA!!

Jerry Alderson   21/03/2017 at 19:48

I'm pleased that the DfT changed the franchise definition name. Those of us from East Anglia in particular rather disliked the SRA's so-called "Greater Anglia" franchise. If Anglia = England (which is a historial meaning, and is still the term in some other languages) then presumably (and to the alarm of the SNP) Greater Anglia = Great Britain. It was a nonsense term. (It's a bit like my suggestion that First Capital Connect must have run the service between London-Cardiff, London-Edinburgh and Cardiff-Edinbugh, although pedants migth have said that would be First Capitals Connect.) Getting back on topic, I am pleased to see that the incentive for the TOCs to keep Delay Repay a secret is reduced. The level of incentive that remains depends on how much they had put in their bid for DelayRepay, of course.

Richard   21/03/2017 at 23:29

Fail to understand the fanaticism from Anglia "Norwich" Commuter for these new trains. Many User Groups and Users themselves are now quite upset to learn that these new trains will remove first class, bike space, limited catering and comfortable seating to be replaced by hi-density hard seating that is becoming the norm these days. And as for Norwich, no longer Inter-City but now becoming just a commuter line. I for one will miss the much more comfortable MkIII Coaches (even though other TOC's have done even better upgrades on theirs). I REALLY ABHOR WHAT WE'RE BEING FOISTED WITH AND PREFER MUCH OF THE OLD STOCK.

Anglia "Norwich" Commuter.   22/03/2017 at 12:40

Very true Richard.

Jon   22/03/2017 at 20:46

Andrew, is this a new persona of yours above?

Andrew Gwilt   23/03/2017 at 08:35

No. What a stupid question was that then.

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