Remembering the effects of severe weather

24 July 2014

As we experience this balmy July weather, it is hard to remember that the country experienced such extreme weather last winter.  But Richard Brown’s Review,just published, is a reminder that we should not forget that they had severe impact on our transport system (and, of course, extreme hot weather can do the same). Such events are not likely to  go away in the long term. Every month some record or other is being broken: wettest, driest, hottest.

As for passengers, it causes extreme delays, and hence disruption to their travel. Our National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) shows that how train companies deal with delays is a factor that has the biggest impact on passenger dissatisfaction.  The overall satisfaction dealing with delays score in the latest NRPS is low at 38 per cent: varying as much 56 per cent for East Midlands trains and 27 per cent for Southeastern.

Part of the answer is improving communications.  Passengers accept that things sometimes go wrong, what they want is reliable, prompt information that enables them to rearrange their day.  Brown recommends making communications  more ‘passenger-friendly’ by using everyday language and improving people’s understanding of the cause for disruption which is welcome.  Also welcome is his recommendation that we collaborate with the Rail Delivery Group and the Office of Rail Regulation to amend performance and compensation regimes during extreme weather disruption. It is right that this is looked at – train companies who issue ‘emergency’ timetables are judged against the new, cut-down timetable rather than the original.  So it is easy for season ticket holders in particular to feel aggrieved when it comes to compensation.

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