Transport User Voice – August 2018 – Rail timetable crisis – time to rebuild trust?

31 July 2018

The announcement of special compensation above and beyond the usual is welcome news for passengers hit by timetable disruption on Thameslink, Great Northern, Transpennine Express and Northern.

As timetable problems continued through July we have continued to be both active and vocal about information, compensation, re-building trust and stabilising the timetables.

Our Manchester public board meeting in mid June had helped ensure passengers could quiz Northern, Transpennine Express and Network Rail on their recovery plan. The report of our ‘lightning’ research published in late June that looked at the passenger experience of the Lakes Line bus replacement and charter trains is well worth a read as a case study examining one very concerted response to short notice, short term disruption. Nevertheless, we continue to monitor the reinstated service.

Northern has now reinstated 75 per cent of the services removed with the introduction of the emergency timetable in June and Liverpool Lime Street has reopened after 8 weeks of engineering work.

The interim timetable on Thameslink and Great Northern does look as if it’s brought the stability passengers have been desperate for. Far fewer cancellations and delays, except where there’s been an infrastructure problem. While far from perfect, perhaps we have moved out of the crisis phase of this debacle?

Transport Focus is still pressing for something to be done for regular passengers who buy tickets on the day – such as part-time workers. Since the outset of the timetable crisis on 20 May these passengers have also not had the service they’ve paid for and deserve something back. And we think compensating this group of passengers is an important part of the industry starting to rebuild trust with its customers. The train companies concerned need to grasp this nettle quickly.

We are pushing to make these things happen on behalf of passengers and are continuing to help more passengers with their complaints to train companies.

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