The Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) annual consumer report shows it has worked constructively across the industry to deliver improvements surrounding refund rights and accessibility for passengers.
ORR’s passenger research demonstrated that the improvements surrounding accessible travel have been welcomed, as delivery of assistance and passenger satisfaction increase, and the rail regulator has made substantial progress in making sure the delivery of commitments set out in its Accessible Travel Policy (ATP) guidance are carried out.
According to a report by the Department for Transport, in 2019, disabled adults in England made 26% fewer trips than those without a disability.
Thankfully, all train and station operators are now underway to having 30,000 passenger-facing staff, fully trained in disability awareness and equality by the end of 2021. The necessary information surrounding the passenger assistance service is now clearly displayed across all websites and the regulator has reduced the notice period for booking assistance to six hours before travel.
Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director for Consumers at ORR, said: “Train and station operators must be commended for how they have adapted over the past 12 months. In a challenging year, ORR has helped the industry continue to make progress particularly around accessibility. We’re now focusing on making sure that they remain fixed on meeting passengers’ needs as they return.”
“This coming year needs the whole rail industry to work together to rebuild confidence in rail travel and we’ll be playing our part by continuing out work to improve the passenger experience and taking action where necessary.”
In 2020/21 the regulator made a number of key interventions with train companies to secure improvements, particularly the reliability of booked assistance, the introduction of new mobile assistance teams and the quality of information available to passengers ahead of major station closures.
Additionally, ORR made sure Eurostar updated the information provided to passengers on their right to a cash refund for cancelled services. They also played a role in supporting the government’s efforts to protect public health by taking on the responsibility to monitor and enforce compliance with international travel regulations, applying to both Eurotunnel and Eurostar.
Next year ORR will focus on monitoring compliance with ATP requirements, especially station accessibility information provided on train operator and National Rail Enquiries websites, alongside trying to secure improvements for passengers on simplifying delay compensation and improving complaints processes. Research will also continue to assess if improvements are being delivered across all of the industry.