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RDG promises ‘toughest punctuality measures in Europe’

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has said it intends to adopt the ‘toughest punctuality measures in Europe’ as part of a series of promises to improve rail passenger experience.

The RDG, which represents Network Rail and train operating companies, has now published a letter from Jacqueline Starr, its managing director of customer experience, to Louise Ellman, the chair of the Transport Select Committee.

The letter sets out the RDG’s response to a committee report recommending measures to improve the passenger experience following problems on the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise.

In the letter, Starr expressed support for moving away from the PPM to measure rail company success in favour of ‘right-time’ data, which define the threshold for lateness more tightly than the current 10 minutes.

It said that these proposals, which have been endorsed by its National Task Force, would introduce “the toughest measure of train punctuality anywhere in Europe” in Britain.

Jo Kaye, Network Rail’s executive director for network strategy and capacity planning, told the Transport Select Committee last month that Network Rail wanted to move towards ‘granular’ performance measures in CP6.

In addition, the RDG offered to participate in a DfT-led review of the Thameslink programme, which contributed to the TSGN disruption, and agreed that the industry should do more to “anticipate and avoid severe levels of disruption from major infrastructure works in the future”.

Network Rail has admitted that it will need to take measures to avoid similar problems when work to prepare Euston for HS2 begins.

Another cause of the delays is strikes by RMT over plans by the operator, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), to introduce driver-only operated (DOO) services.

Responding to concerns that there has been no assessment of the impact of DOO on disabled people, Starr said that passengers could receive assistance from station staff where there were no on-board staff, and that it was “open to discussions” with the DfT over carrying out research into this issue.

Furthermore, the RDG said it was working with the DfT, ORR, Which?, and Transport Focus to produce a plan to address concerns that the ticket-buying process is too jargon-filled and confusing. It also promised to introduce the option of barcode ticketing for all passengers by the end of 2018.

The RDG is also carrying out a review of National Rail Enquiries, with the intention of publishing a strategy for improvement by the end of March 2017.

It has said that it favours introducing a new website for rail travel information, as well as developing a minimum set of standards for train company websites and apps.

In addition, the RDG welcomed recommendations for expanding the National Rail Passenger Survey from annual to quarterly timing, but warned that there would be “significant cost and logistical implications” to this, as well as to include people who are excluded from using trains.

Regarding the introduction of free wi-fi, the RDG agreed with the committee that a “clear plan” was needed for investment in this area, and said it would be happy to work with the DfT and Network Rail on this. Recently, Matt Hancock, the digital policy minister, noted that the minimum speed required for train wi-fi will be only 1 megabit per second (Mbps).

(Image c. Johnny Green from PA Images)

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Lutz   23/11/2016 at 19:00

They might be tougher, but will they meet customer expectations? Its time to see a move towards on-time arrivals and departures at every stop along the route, not just a metric for the arrival time at the destination.

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