Transport User Voice – December 2019 – Chief executive’s editorial

28 November 2019

Update from Anthony Smith

Fares set to rise 

Next year’s fare increase is soon to hit booking systems. With the prospect of rail fares rising once again many passengers will be asking whether commuting by train represents good value for money. 

In our National Rail Passenger Survey, we speak to 50,000 passengers every year and we know that less than half feel they get value for money. No consumer likes prices to go up for anything – and rail passengers are certainly no different in this respect. It is much easier to accept these increases if you are getting a better service and you feel you are getting value for money.  

Come the new year passengers will want to see renewed focus on the basics: a more reliable service, more chance of getting a seat and better information when things go wrong. While welcome investment is being made in the railway, passengers need to be able to rely on the trains today. Until day-to-day reliability returns, with fewer significant delays and cancellations, passenger trust won’t begin to recover. 

Northern transport 

Our Board met in Manchester and we held a stakeholder reception there recently – a good turnout. Also, much work continues even as the pre-election period has damped down some activity.  

Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive of Highways England, came to talk to our Board about road safety and smart motorways in particular. We also heard from Kieran Dunkin, Network Rail sponsor of the Trans Pennine Upgrade project (we have passenger research out on this later this year) and Councillor Liam Robinson, Chairperson of the Transport Committee and Portfolio Holder: Transport and Air Quality, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, who spoke about the work of the Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance (which we take part in).  

Look out for our research coming out soon about: 

  • bus user and non-user priorities for improvement
  • train travel and younger/older passengers
  • passenger attitudes to reliability on higher frequency services
  • bus and the Strategic Road Network
  • passengers and what they want to see from refurbished trains.

We remain consumer focused, trying to be useful to those making decisions about transport services and evidence based. 

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