Transport User Voice – February 2023 – Across Great Britain
30 January 2023
Wales, Scotland and the West Midlands
Brand new trains for the Valleys
We’ve been out and about on the Cardiff and Valley lines to have a look at the route and to see what the stations are like for passengers. It was great to try out the long-awaited new class 231 trains on the Penarth to Rhymney route. These have enhanced features for passengers such as improved accessibility, comfortable seats, plenty of legroom, coat hooks, and bilingual information. There is an improved onboard display which details journey progress and has directional signs advising passengers which side to get off. There were a few glitches on the route with the onboard display and the Welsh language, but it was good to see staff were on board to iron out any problems to ensure an excellent passenger experience.
All trains on the route were immaculately clean – we know from our research that cleanliness is important to passengers. It was great to see that new signs have been introduced at Barry station since our last visit. While the general experience was good, there were some issues requiring attention including graffiti and some wear and tear. We’re also working with Transport for Wales on issues raised by passengers about seating in the waiting room and the cafe at Cardiff Queen Street.
Getting more people to use bus and coach
Transport Focus contributed to a series of roundtable discussions late last year, including one dedicated to Wales. The Social Market Foundation (SMF) and Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) were putting together policy ideas towards transport behaviour change and encouraging people to use buses and coaches more. Last month they launched the report for Wales, with key figures from the two organisations, plus Transport for Wales and chair of the Senedd Committee Llyr Gruffydd MS. Transport Focus joined the event in Cardiff Bay to hear key points from the report.
Transport Focus called for a network that reflects passenger priorities of punctuality, frequency, getting a seat and giving value for money. Also we want key barriers of cost, convenience and complexity addressed. We went on to highlight the challenge that, while savings are needed, it is crucial that attractive services are delivered for passengers.
Transport Focus has been speaking to over 1000 passengers about their experience travelling with cross border operators Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express. There’s been months of disruption to rail services which the operators have tried to solve by introducing reduced timetables in December, adding more seats and services.
Around one in five said they had experienced delays or cancellations on their last journey. Less than half were satisfied with delay information. We’ll be continuing to keep an eye on the situation and work with the operators to push for improvements.
Our new bus passenger satisfaction survey Your Bus Journey has begun in Scotland which will look at passenger satisfaction on buses.
The survey will provide continuous data collection throughout the year. The survey is designed to inform bus partnerships and alliances to develop and deliver ambitious bus improvement schemes. This in turn should improve passenger satisfaction and encourage more people to use buses.
The West Midlands
With Penalty Fares going up in January we’ve been helping train operators in the West Midlands communicate this to passengers. We are keen to make sure there are co-ordinated plans and a joined-up approach. This has been helped by our recently published research What matters to passengers.
The Grand Railway Collaboration continues to develop positive initiatives including revenue protection, customer information during disruption and closer working. We’re also helping set up a second customer experience forum involving staff from all roles and operators planned for April 2023.
On bus, the rollout of £2 single fare capping has proved a positive step, complementing the price freezes both on bus and also on West Midlands Metro. The West Midlands Bus Alliance (chaired by Transport Focus) continues to give bus a high profile. This was helped further by national coverage of positives like the bus driver in West Bromwich, Mr Ranjit Singh, who expressed his pride in his job in a Punjabi music video which made him employee of the month.
With significant investment of over £70m in trams, an expansion of the West Midlands Metro and station development and HS2 progress there is a lot to be positive about in the year ahead. We look forward to making sure passengers are considered throughout these improvements.
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