Around Great Britain

28 June 2023

An update on our work

West Midlands

Changes to services

A series of changes to services as part of the May timetable update are settling in the across the region and making a positive difference to passengers. We worked with West Midlands Trains to review and recommend improvements to services on the Snow Hill line including some re-timed services.

The changes ensure that a sensible, fit for purpose and robust timetable is in place that makes sense and benefits the users of the line. We’ll be monitoring in the weeks and months ahead.

To maximise capacity and space for passengers during busy periods and into the summer season, London Northwestern First Class services were de-classified as part of its timetable changes

Finally, those visiting Birmingham New Street in the near future will be able to see a new and possibly familiar attraction. The Raging Bull from last year’s Commonwealth Games is taking up residence in his new home at the station. The Bull, named Ozzy will complete his journey his new home later in July and it won’t be long before he is attracting the attention of passengers.


Scottish Parliament

Transport Focus shared the findings about what matters most to passengers in Scotland from our Britain’s railway – What matters to passengers, research with the Scottish Parliament. It was part of both written and oral evidence to the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee last month focussing on ScotRail’s first year in public ownership including issues such as industrial relations, fares, patronage and the future of the rail industry in Scotland.

As the railway faces up to a difficult financial environment and adapts and changes to how customers need and want to travel, our evidence recognised the last few turbulent years for passengers and the emphasised that passenger voices continue to be acknowledged and heard.

Scottish Bus Week 2023

Transport Focus joined Transform Scotland and other organisations at the Parliament last month to mark Scottish Bus Week. The week is an opportunity to celebrate bus travel and the role it can play as a solution to the some of the biggest public transport challenges.

The transport minister and other members spoke about the importance of showing gratitude to those working in bus who provide essential services every day. They also emphasised the importance of creating and maintaining a vibrant bus network which provides clear sustainable and environmental benefits as well as a convenient and accessible option for travelling for communities.


Rail reliability issues continue

Reliability and capacity issues on certain routes continue to be a problem for passengers following a rolling programme of repairs across Transport for Wales trains. Transport Focus has been out across the network in recent weeks looking at how services are being delivered and talking to passengers and staff about their experiences.

We travelled on the Manchester to Swansea route, visited Barry Docks and surrounding stations and saw the rail replacement services at Bridgend.

Stations were generally well maintained with up-to-date passenger information displayed. It was also good to see improvements in staff visibility and ticket checks on board, but there is a need for consistency across routes and services.

There are also areas that are in need of improvement including at Eastbrook and Barry Docks where we saw quite a bit of graffiti which can impact on passengers’ perceptions of safety.

Part of our review looked at the quality of information being relayed to passengers, particularly during disruption. We’ve submitted a full report to Transport for Wales with our observations including customer information screens in the Barry Docks area and local stations displaying incorrect information. Poor information following a train breakdown at Shrewsbury also meant that passengers were unable to make informed choices about their onward journey.

Passengers at Cardiff were also frustrated when a freight train breakdown caused disruption and rerouting of services. Platform announcements and information on screens was poor, as was visibility of staff to support passengers. We are pleased to be working with Transport for Wales to address these issues.

Older people share their views

The Vale 50+ transport group recently invited Transport Focus to come and update them on our work. We met some great people who were passionate about public transport issues and heard about some of the key concerns affecting this group. These included bus funding to support local services and the increasing digitisation of services which was leaving some groups isolated.

The cost of transport particularly for the 50-59 age group which does not have access to concessionary travel, and the potential impact of the 20mph roads limit which comes into effect in September were also high on the agenda. The group also passed on their concerns about bus reliability, inaccurate planners and the need for real-time bus information and accurate timetables at bus stops.

We also heard about accessibility issues such as gaps between the train and platform edges at certain stations being unmanageable, and lack of station lifts at some key stations. The meeting helped us understand some of the first-hand problems of this particular age group of passengers and we are planning to update the group on our continuing research at a future meeting.


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