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What do our passenger advisors do?

Our passenger advisors are the ‘front line’ of our organisation, dealing directly with passengers’ complaints and enquiries.

Passenger advisor Stuart Edwards

My name is Stuart. I have worked as a Passenger Advisor for just over a year. I joined from the Highways Agency where I was a control traffic officer for four years. 

My alarm goes off at 6.15am and after a good breakfast I commute via train in to work; I’m usually at my desk from 7.45am.

My job is to help passengers who are unhappy with the outcome of a complaint they have raised with a train company. A normal day for a passenger advisor includes responding to passengers or train companies who have contacted us via telephone or email.

Passengers contact us if they are unhappy with the response they have had from a complaint to a train company, or sometimes to ask about general policy. Or we may hear from train companies about ongoing cases (which we call appeal complaints – you can click here to see our latest data on numbers of complaints received).

My first job will be to check any emails that have come in overnight and respond accordingly. I will then update our records and finalise any cases that are complete. 

However if the response from the train company hasn’t met our expectations, or the passenger isn’t satisfied, I will go back to the train company. Next I’ll review any new cases I’ve received.

To help with this, we ask people to give us as much information as possible either on the phone or using the webform. It’s really useful to have copies of any tickets, booking confirmations or correspondence from the train company. The more information we have, the quicker I can start work on the case.

I’ll start by contacting the company and trying to negotiate the issue. This could then lead to me escalating it up to a more senior person in the company.

Some cases may also involve complex railway legislation and then I’ll have to get other colleagues involved to make sure we get it absolutely right.

Although we’re only a small team that deals with complaints for the whole of Great Britain (except London), we investigate each case thoroughly, to try and ensure the best possible outcome for the passenger. We also try to keep passengers updated as often as possible, but cases can sometimes take a long time to resolve.

We aim to respond to every enquiry, and to resolve all appeals, within 35 working days.

I may also spend some time setting up visits to train companies. This can be helpful if there are a number of complaints we could tackle at once. If there is a new member of staff in the company, it can be useful to meet them to explain who we are and what we do. 

If we notice a number of complaints of a similar type coming from the same train operator or a theme across the industry, we refer it to our passenger manager or policy colleagues. This may result in further work to influence the industry to address the problem. A recent example of this was our Ticket to Ride work, which looked at how passengers are treated when they make a genuine mistake with their ticket. 

We also help train companies to address particular issues with their complaints process by carrying out a ‘complaints review.’ We identify any problems and work with the company to see if there are any possible solutions that will result in passengers getting a better result first time without having to ask us to intervene. 

My day generally finishes at 4pm and then it’s back off home for a hearty dinner and some R&R…. if the train is on time!

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