Up the creek

12 October 2011

Recently we published our new report, Information: Rail passengers’ needs during unplanned disruption.  The conclusions are clear:

  • accurate, timely and consistent information is critical because it allows passengers to make informed decisions about what they do
  • passengers do not always trust the information they are given, particularly the reasons offered for delays and cancellations – they want more honesty
  • the attitude and empathy of railway staff towards passengers during disruption is a key factor
  • passengers want train companies to actively tell them if there are problems, particularly cancellations or if a temporary timetable is being introduced
  • passenger Focus will press the rail industry to address these issues – we’ll be monitoring how well they do if bad weather affects the railway this winter

Saw some of this in action at Reading as a fatality at Southall meant all eastbound trains being decanted and no westbound trains. Lots of staff around, good. Clear-ish tannoy messages but indicator boards frustratingly saying about individual trains ‘delayed’. No they weren’t – they were cancelled, not running, nonexistent. Until a major industry investment in kit (which looks like it is coming) these systems will always lag behind. Oddest of all – you can get to Waterloo on a slow South West Trains service from Reading. It wasn’t until relativity late that some people were directed towards this.

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