Rail passengers, franchising and trust

08 April 2015

“We buy tickets so we are investing in the service…. [we] should be seen as shareholders not users.”

Passengers feel very strongly about their train services – after all many of them rely on it ten times a week – a very intense experience. No one goes to Tesco’s ten times a week!

While the day-to-day delivery is key to passenger satisfaction, a clear statement of promises made at the start of a franchise is – we think – a key building block in trust.

The Department for Transport now requires any new franchisee to issue a Customer Report setting out its plans for the railway and its commitments to passengers.

We’ve just published a new piece of research summarising the findings of 20+ focus groups amongst c2c, Abellio Greater Anglia and Govia Thameslink Railway passengers. What passengers want from Customer Reports explores passenger reactions to the first reports to be published, highlighting best practice and areas for improvement.

Overall, passengers approve of the notion of the report and regard it as positive that new franchisees are required to issue one. They appreciate the transparency of the operator communicating directly with them and telling them openly about their future plans for the network. However, whether people trust in what the report promises depends on their previous experiences with that operator. And just producing a report doesn’t change attitudes – the acid test will be how those promises are delivered.


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