Transport User Voice – April 2023 – On the rails

30 March 2023

How are passengers faring?

March began with rail fares going up. After months of unreliable service and strike disruption it’s clear that many passengers are not getting a value for money service – something they have told us through our research.

Although capping fares and delaying until March has eased some of the pain, we have called for a fundamental reform of fares and ticketing. Until then we want more initiatives like extending Pay As You Go and single-leg pricing trials.

While RMT members at Network Rail have now accepted a pay offer other industrial disputes are ongoing. We’ve been monitoring the situation around the strikes and have called for improvements.

Overwhelmingly we found information is frustratingly in need of ‘sharpening up’ to make it as simple as possible for passengers to make informed decisions. We highlighted issues to train operators and others where we found them. This included making information about strikes be more prominent on train operator websites, being clear on which operators were and were not affected by strikes and letting passengers know when strike information would be available in journey planners. We also suggested using graphics to makes information easier to digest at a glance.

We pushed operators to show alternative routes where passengers had no choice but to travel. And for those not travelling we wanted refund information to be easier to access and use.

Earlier this month the Department for Transport announced that it would extend Avanti West Coast’s contract for a further six months. While there has been progress in performance Avanti is still falling short. We have called for Avanti to continue to focus on improving reliability to regain passenger trust. We’ll continue to keep an eye on the situation and work with Avanti to do better for passengers.

We had managing directors from Northern, TransPennine and Avanti at our Board meeting in Manchester and asked them about performance issues and the future. You can watch it back here.


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