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Industrial action in 2017

Many rail passengers are once more experiencing the uncertainty of how they will get to work, home, school and other appointments.

For over a year now, industrial action has been ongoing or threatened across the rail network. Passengers experienced huge disruption and personal misery, as we found in our research with our Transport User Panel. Whether people support the strikers or not – and views differ just as they do in any large group – they will all be impacted and suffer the disruption.

The whole debate can seem truly confusing, not least with acronyms like ‘DOO’ and ‘DCO’ being bandied about. Driver-only operation (also sometimes called driver-controlled operation) is where the train driver is in control of the door operation of the train.

The RMT union wants a ‘safety critical’ second member of staff on every train. The industry safety regulator the Office of Rail and Road has confirmed that with ‘suitable equipment, proper procedures and competent staff’ it can be safe for trains to run without a second member of staff.

What does Transport Focus think?
It is passengers who suffer most in the event of rail strikes. When industrial relations reach deadlock, it is important that all parties just get back around the table and come up with an arrangement without bringing the railway to a standstill.

However, if strikes look likely, passengers need plenty of advance information about what services will be running to allow them to plan their journeys during this uncertain time. They should also be offered some form of compensation. We’ve been working with the train companies to try to ensure this information is clear to passengers.

We know that the rail industry must improve customer service to keep pace with passengers’ expectations. Our research, Passenger attitudes towards rail staff, shows that passengers really value staff on trains and at stations for the help, support and reassurance they can provide. The train companies say their plans are aimed at making staff more visible and freeing up their time to help passengers and provide customer service. However, change can be worrying, so to build and maintain passengers’ trust the train companies must ensure they keep them informed about their plans.

How do we know what passengers think?
We have carried out a number of surveys to capture the human side of the dispute and to identify the key issues. We used our National Rail Passenger Survey, and our Transport User Panel to get feedback in ‘real time’. To get involved in the panel sign up here.

We continue to feed this back to the industry and Government and press for improvements for passengers.

For more information on how the strikes are impacting passengers on individual operators, click on the sections below.

What passengers are telling us

Merseyrail services will be affected by strike action on 5 October 2017. Click here for strike updates.

Most recently we have used our Transport User Panel to carry out a survey to understand how passengers feel about the industrial action effecting Merseyrail and to explore what impact the strikes are having passengers’ lives. Click here to see the full results.

You can read more about the work Transport Focus has been doing to capture how Merseyrail passengers have been impacted during the strikes here.

Strike information and your rights to compensation

Further information about the industrial action affecting Merseyrail, including compensation and refunds is available on its strike action page.

What passengers are telling us

Northern services have been affected by strikes on 3 and 5 October. Some services have been reduced, with some rail replacement buses, while some routes have had no service. More information here.

We carried out a survey speaking to passengers to get a sense of how passengers feel about the industrial action effecting Northern trains and to explore in detail the impact of the strikes on passengers’ daily lives. Click here to see the full results.

You can read more about the work Transport Focus has been doing to capture how Northern passengers have been impacted during the strikes here.

We’ve been working with Northern to try to ensure this information is clear and consider how it could be improved. We will be focusing on the information provided to passengers on future strike days. As the dispute continues this will be increasingly important as passengers may be less able to keep changing their plans.

We will be monitoring how passengers are impacted during the strikes. In the meantime it is vital that all parties in this dispute get back around the table to resolve this matter without bringing the railway to a standstill.

Strike information and your rights to compensation

We welcome that Northern have offered ticket holders a refund or compensation if they are either unable or choose not to travel. It’s very important that passengers who stay at home, or take an alternative form of transport, are aware and claim what they are entitled to.

You can read our guide on how you can claim a refund or compensation if you are affected by Northern strike action here.

For further information on strikes contact Northern.

What passengers are telling us

Following months of strikes on Southern we wanted to understand how passengers feel about the industrial action affecting Southern train services.

Transport Focus has used its Transport User Panel to survey passengers on Southern services during the strikes. We have used this insight to explore in detail the impact of the industrial action on passengers’ daily lives.  This has included looking at what alternative travel arrangements they have made as a result of the strikes and whether passengers feel that the information they were given was effective in helping them to understand the impact of the strikes. Click here to find out more.

You can read Transport Focus’s response to the recent Gibb report here.

For more information on the work Transport Focus has done to capture the Southern passengers’ experiences during the months of delays and cancellations due to strikes and the Southern emergency timetable click here.

Your rights to compensation

Passengers are urged to check the details of their journeys before they travel on the following link: http://www.southernrailway.com/your-journey/strike/

If you are travelling on Southern and your train is delayed or cancelled you may be entitled to compensation. Click here to read our step by step guide on how you can claim.

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