Consumer Rights Bill

28 March 2014

Legislation known as the Consumer Rights Bill is currently passing through Parliament.  It will update and bring into line current laws and improve protection for consumers overall.  One area it will improve is services. Passengers are, of course, consumers of transport services.

As the Bill has been making its way through the House of Commons, it is clear that the Government intends that it will cover rail and bus travel so putting it on the same footing as other services. This will be good news for rail and bus passengers.

On the rail side, passenger rights are broadly covered by what is called ‘the National Rail Conditions of Carriage’. It is important that these are updated in line with the intentions in the Bill so giving passengers better protection. It could include such redress for failing to inform passengers about known engineering works and that a rail replacement bus was in operation. Or it might be a failure to honour seat reservations or to provide the Passenger Assist scheme for people with disabilities. It will be essential that any revisions to the Conditions are subject to a public consultation.

On the bus side, there is currently little protection at all for fare-paying passengers. But the principle should apply if things go wrong with bus journeys. There are practical issues about how this might work. But, to take this forward, we suggest that the Department for Transport sets up a working group of the industry, passenger groups and others to consider how this issues might be resolved.

Let’s hope this will result in a better deal for passengers.

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