Working in partnership with London TravelWatch

Transport User Voice – Half of Northern passengers unaware of strike compensation

31 July 2017

Passengers hit by rail strikes in the North of England are calling for more information about the compensation they are entitled to in our latest survey.

Earlier in July the RMT union took strike action affecting Northern, Merseyrail and Southern passengers, part of the continuing dispute about the role of the guard. The impact on Northern and Merseyrail services between 8 and 10 July was significant, some routes had a much reduced service, others were replaced with buses and some stations had no service at all.

We used our online Transport User Panel to survey Northern and Merseyrail passengers who either used their services during the strike, or originally planned to but didn’t due the strike. This follows on from similar research with Southern passengers published earlier this year. The key findings were:

Northern:

  • Awareness of compensation: almost a third of passengers who said they didn’t use Northern services because of the strike said they held a valid ticket, such as a season ticket or other ticket bought in advance. Of these, more than half were not aware they may be entitled to a refund or to compensation. A similar number were not aware how to claim.
  • Impact of the strike: almost all passengers said that they were impacted in some way and around four in ten said they were impacted a great deal. The most common impacts were having to allow more time for their journey, use other forms of public transport and cancel a trip out. But passengers also said they had to take a day’s leave, cancel an appointment or even lose a day’s pay.
  • Information: seven in ten said they knew at least a little about how Northern services would be affected beforehand, while less than one in ten said they knew nothing about it. Two thirds of passengers agreed the information Northern provided meant they knew how the strike action would affect them.

Merseyrail:

  • Awareness of compensation: 37 per cent of Merseyrail passengers who did not use Merseyrail services because of the strike, but held a valid ticket, said they were aware they may be entitled to a refund or compensation. A similar number said they were not aware they may be entitled.
  • Impact of the strike: passengers using Merseyrail reported similar impacts and feelings about the strike to Northern passengers, but were less likely to travel by train at this time.

Awareness of the potential impact of strike action amongst Merseyrail passengers was higher than for Northern passengers. 77 per cent of passengers said they knew at least a little about the impact on train services before the strike, while 72 per cent agreed the information Merseyrail provided meant that they knew how services would be affected.

When strikes cause disruption passengers need information. It’s reassuring most passengers said they were aware and knew how the strike action would affect them. If there are further strikes, the train companies should improve the information they provide to passengers.

In particular Northern and Merseyrail should raise awareness of refund and compensation arrangements so passengers are able to claim what they are entitled to. Even more important for passengers is all parties working to resolve the dispute and bringing to an end the disruption, frustration and worry the strikes cause for passengers.

You can read the reports showing the full findings for Northern here and Merseyrail here.

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