Transport User Voice – April 2019 – Derby engineering and resignalling works

26 March 2019

Putting passengers at the heart of the upgrade

Investment in the rail network is welcome and much needed, whether it is for major improvements to infrastructure or to stations or renewing worn-out equipment and electrification. These all promise better journeys for passengers in one way or another.

Transport Focus worked with East Midlands Trains, CrossCountry and Network Rail to help make sure passenger communications hit the mark in the run up to major engineering works at Derby station last year. Prior to the works beginning, Transport Focus worked with the operators and Network Rail to carry out several waves of research with passengers assessing their knowledge of the works and how this built over time.

The research provides good lessons for the rail industry. East Midlands Trains and CrossCountry proactively offering discounted fares and compensation for passengers impacted by planned disruption should be emulated in future major engineering works. Passengers tell us that when it’s a bus rather than a train they expect to pay less. Despite delays to this being announced, discounted fares and compensation certainly helped to ‘sugar the pill and maintain trust between the railway and passengers.

In the final wave of the research, three quarters of passengers were aware of the works. Awareness remained highest among commuters, those over 55 and East Midlands Trains passengers, although leisure, business and CrossCountry passengers all became more aware over the course of the works. During the works, the most common form of delay was a bus replacement for all or part of the journey, followed by the train leaving late or being delayed once boarded.

Time and again Transport Focus research shows that passengers accept the need for improvement projects and their associated disruption if they are given appropriate notice about what is happening and, above all, what it means for their journey. To retain the confidence, trust and support of its passengers, the rail industry needs to give meaningful consideration to people’s needs when planning and undertaking engineering work.

Transport Focus is working with the industry to ensure these lessons are learnt and built into upcoming major works at Kings Cross.

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