Delays and disruption – getting a better deal for users

22 November 2017

Investment in rail and road networks is great. However, the digging phases of that investment can often be painful for users. Passengers and road users rely on the published timetable or the one they set themselves based on experience – when there are delays they want to be put back in control with information and help. How delays are dealt with is a key driver of dissatisfaction. So how transport networks cope with delays is crucial.

We focus a lot of attention on this. So it was good to hear at our public board meeting in Manchester that Highways England, in response to our recent letter, is advancing and extending plans to help motorists caught in tailbacks and to try and stop motorists joining the queues.

Transport Focus has also worked with Network Rail and train operators to improve the handling of planned disruption. In the last few weeks we have published our work on the Waterloo and Lime Street upgrades. We benchmarked, tracked and helped improved communication throughout. The railway, with our help, is getting better at handling planned disruption, although it’s still not good enough at getting the timetable completely accurate 12 weeks ahead.

Unplanned disruption is trickier to handle but key to restoring trust. We have been doing in-depth work with the Rail Delivery Group, which we hope can continue, in improving the quality and clarity of disruption information.

When things do wrong passengers are entitled to some redress. The welcome spread of Delay Repay is being somewhat marred by clunky manual systems – great if this could be automated. This is our wish list:

  1. a system that remembers my details (name, address, season ticket details, bank account details) so that I don’t have to re-enter them each time
  2. a means of checking on the status of claims (which are pending, have been approved, have been paid, were rejected) so I know where I stand without having to try to reconcile numerous emails
  3. a means of adding comments or additional details to support the claim… for example, so that I can state train A was cancelled and, although train B was only 20 late, I was 35 late and compensation is therefore payable. This would avoid further correspondence when a claim is initially refused as being ineligible based only on train B’s delay
  4. give me the money automatically if you know I was on a train that ran late enough for redress to kick in (for example, I bought a ticket valid only on that service).

We will push for the introduction of this type of scheme. In the meantime awareness is key. So, a good win for passengers as South Western Railway, following our suggestion, now includes the Delay Repay link in its tweets about disruption.

To see what else we are working on and plan to publish soon, please check out the update to our Insight Plan, published this week. If you want to know more about any of our insight work, contact the team.

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