Working in partnership with London TravelWatch

Passengers snowed under?

03 December 2010

This is the third tough winter in a row. Last year we had the Garnett enquiry into Eurostar’s problems last Christmas and New Year. We had a government ordered enquiry into ‘winter resilience’ which came up with a host of recommendations. The rail industry industry promised us that lessons had been learned, investments, like new heaters for rail points, information beefed up.

Yet, here we are again. Bad stories of passengers stranded. Poor quality information abounds. Parts of the country cut off. Yes, autumn and winter have followed hard on each other. Yes, this is coldest start to winter on record. Yes, the ‘third rail’ electrical system south of Thames –a cheaper investment option years ago, is prone to icing. Yes, passengers understand that things can happen, trains can break down and rail staff will struggle to get to work just as they do. Yes, staff are doing their best in very difficult circumstances. However, what we passengers cannot forgive is the poor quality of information.

Passenger Focus has just carried out a ground breaking piece of research into how disruption is dealt with. We recruited a 1000 strong army of passengers who fed us over 2000 comments. These have already led to many changes of processes. The key messages were clear – treat us like human beings and give us useful, timely information. What was really striking was that disruption well handled can boost satisfaction – it’s an opportunity to impress your customers.

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