The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) have released their annual rail consumer report today, showing how train and station operators have made improvements regarding accessibility for passengers and improving access to compensation. These improvements have centred towards disabled passengers, as set out in ORR’s Accessible Travel Policy guidance.
Achieved changes are shown through all train operators across the UK now being able to take bookings for assisted travel at 2 hours’ notice. This ORR requirement has been introduced to progressively reduce the notice period from its previous 24 hours over the last two years.
Research was conducted that investigated the experiences from disabled passengers across the sector regarding booked assistance. The research has shown there is overall satisfaction, from the 5,200 passengers that took part, with the Passenger Assist service increasing to 87% this year.
Whilst satisfactory services were clearly highlighted, the research identified key areas for future improvement, such as reducing the number of passengers who did not receive all the assistance they booked, those not being met by staff at the station, and the time it takes to book via telephone. In the past year, all train operators have also agreed to new delay compensation standards, making the process for submitting a claim clearer and simpler for passengers.
An accessibility review has shown that the availability of information, especially for customers that use screen-readers and other assistive technology must see further improvements to garner more passenger satisfaction. The ORR will seek to engage with train and station operators to implement these improvements and secure future passenger confidence.
A new licence condition requires train operators to provide passengers with clear information both before and during their journey about their entitlements to compensation when there are delays, improve how they process claims for compensation for train delays, and publish data on how well they are meeting these obligations.
Stephanie Tobyn, Interim Director of Strategy, Policy, and Reform at ORR said:
“Throughout the past year we have held train and station operators to account for fair and transparent interactions with passengers, including on the quality of their passenger information, the services they provide for disabled passengers and how they manage delay compensation claims.
“In the year ahead, we will work with Government to support the establishment of Great British Railways and a better passenger experience, and will bring the Rail Ombudsman under ORR sponsorship”
Following the drop in rail usage since the recent pandemic, it is vital that the public image of the rail sector is protected and enhanced through adaption and innovation. Encouraging passenger return is paramount to the survival of the industry, so the continued adherence to the ORR regulations must be a top priority for operators across the nation.
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