Passenger Voice December 2015: Anthony Smith’s editorial

27 November 2015

Investment continues, time to ensure passengers are at the heart of the decisions

Passengers will be reassured that Sir Peter Hendy’s review into Network Rail has found ways to continue with the investment in the much-welcomed and long-promised improvements to rail. This follows years of above-inflation fare increases, increasingly crowded trains and disruptive engineering works for passengers. However there are still delays to schemes and new plans to bring in revenue with the sale of station facilities. Passengers will want to see that these new plans are robust and can be now be delivered to help rebuild trust.

Watch our video on what our passenger director, David Sidebottom had to say about what the spending review more generally means for passengers here.

The Department for Transport has committed itself to introducing flexible season tickets, improving Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity on trains and once again freezing rail fares in real terms (RPI) for the course of this Parliament. Having long called for a better deal for passengers when they are delayed, we are pleased to see they will now get compensation when they are over 15 minutes late. Now train companies need to start proactively telling passengers about this or better refund them automatically.

But passengers who use the bus will be wondering how these changes will affect their local journey. While it was good to see the Bus Service Operators’ Grant remained out of the spending review, our conference in Gateshead showed that 2016 will present an interesting year ahead for bus passengers. Whatever the final outcome in Tyne and Wear it is important that the needs of passengers are at the heart of the decision. Passengers tell us that the most important thing for them is getting a seat on a value for money bus service that turns up on time. The upcoming Buses Bill will need to have this at its heart.

Now we are well into the run-up to Christmas it is vital that train companies provide plenty of timely information to help people work round changes to their journeys. With the massive amount of disruption planned on services in the south east the big test of the Christmas works and beyond now looms. Passengers won’t want a repeat of last year’s chaos at King’s Cross.


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