National rail strikes: easing the pain for passengers

11 July 2022

What was the experience of the national rail strikes for passengers? 

Transport Focus’s latest report on the recent rail strikes makes a number of recommendations to improve the improve the experience should further strikes go ahead. 

In advance of and during the strikes Transport Focus spoke to passengers to understand the impact on them and, if they had travelled, about their experiences. 

We pressed train companies to provide clear information on what services would and wouldn’t be running so passengers could plan their journeys. They also needed to know how to get their money back if they didn’t travel. 

Passengers who used routes that were open generally reported a positive experience and the rail industry deserves credit for that. Refund and compensation arrangements were in the main fair and information was generally good, although we identified areas for improvement with both. 

Among other things, Transport Focus recommends that the rail industry should: 

  • consider how to compensate season ticket holders who do not travel on non-strike days because of a late start to the service, or do travel on a strike day (or the day following) but arrive significantly later than normal as a result of a late start to the service. 
  • clarify in the National Rail Conditions of Travel that if a passenger is entitled to a refund for their unused outward ticket, they can also have their money back on the ticket for their return leg (or vice versa). 
  • increase efforts to help passengers understand when the service will start later or finish earlier than normal, including on the day following strike action. This should include publicising the last trains back. 

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: 

“Most people clearly heeded the message to travel only if necessary and those who did reported a good journey experience with plenty of staff on hand to help. 

“We hope that new strikes are not inflicted on passengers. Should further strikes go ahead we encourage the industry to address our recommendations to ease the pain for those who are affected.” 

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