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National changes needed to increase compensation awareness – ORR

National changes are needed to improve awareness among railway passengers of how to claim compensation after delays, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has said in response to a super-complaint by campaigning group Which?

The ORR’s new report says that around 80% of passengers do not claim compensation due to a lack of information about their rights.

The ORR recommend a co-ordinated national promotional campaign to increase passenger awareness, making the provision of information on compensation at the time of delay a licencing requirement, more consistency in requirements on when and how passengers are given information, better information provided by station and on-train staff, clearer and simpler information on claims forms and websites, and more customer-friendly processes for claiming compensation.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “The pressure is now on the train companies to show they can bring about urgently needed basic improvements for their customers. And, where breaches of consumer law and licence conditions have been found, the ORR must take enforcement action without delay.

“But this alone will not be enough to solve the problem for passengers in the long term. The government must now ensure that the rail regulator has all the powers and duties it needs to be a consumer watchdog with real teeth.”

A recent Which? survey of railway passengers found that Southeastern and Thameslink were ranked as the worst performing railway companies.

ORR chief executive Joanna Whittington said: “We want all passengers to be able to claim the compensation they are entitled to. The information they receive needs to be better and the process must be clearer and simpler.

“This is just the first step, and we will be carrying out further research and analysis and introducing a strong monitoring regime to make sure that the industry is delivering for passengers.”

Staff unable to help passengers claim compensation

The ORR said that barriers to passengers claiming compensation included passengers not knowing they need to retain tickets at automatic ticket gates, a lack of awareness that other proof of purchase may be accepted, limited ability to aggregate multiple claims, and failure by some TOCs to offer online claims processes or downloadable forms.

In 49% of cases, ORR mystery shoppers received either no, partial or inaccurate information on compensation from railway staff when they asked them.

The ORR also warned that TOCs need to be aware of the impact the Consumer Rights Act 2015 will have on them, including meaning that they will have to provide compensation in money instead of rail vouchers.

However, it says that there is no evidence that TOCs are deliberately making it harder for passengers to claim compensation and some railway companies are already making progress through methods such as the use of new technologies and seeking to include information on compensation in the passenger information during disruption action plan.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We’re committed to making claiming compensation simpler and clearer. We never want passengers to suffer delays or disruption and when things do go wrong we want to put it right.

“More people are receiving cash compensation as train companies continue to pay out more and make it easier to claim. There is always room for improvement and we know that we can do more to give our customers an even better deal.”

Virgin Trains won the Service Innovation award at the 2016 UK Rail Industry Awards for their automatic delay repay scheme.

(Image c. Johnny Green from PA Images)



Mark Mansfield   18/03/2016 at 14:14

How are we supposed to get cash when they are closing ticket offices and you can't use vouchers online or at machines

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