Transport User Voice – January 2022 – Engineering works in a pandemic

16 December 2021

How to keep passengers informed

Before the pandemic, rail operators found it relatively straightforward to let passengers know of upcoming engineering work. Most publicising of disruption occurred on trains, at stations or when buying tickets online.  

However, with fewer people travelling this year, following lockdowns and restrictions, it became more difficult to keep people updated. Fewer people using train operator apps, websites, and social media made these approaches less effective too. 

Transport Focus looked at two engineering projects between February and June. These involved works on the West Coast Main Line (WCML), including at Euston, and Bristol East Junction. 

Overall, passengers’ requirements for communications remain the same. For information on engineering works to be relevant, it must be: 

  • related to their journey 
  • spread in a variety of ways to have the best possible coverage 
  • available to them when needed, especially when researching a trip or buying a ticket. 

Some of the challenges were not unique to the pandemic. Difficulties of communicating with infrequent travellers continued. There was also confusion among some passengers distinguishing between the ongoing roof work at Bristol Temple Meads station and Bristol East Junction track work. 

Transport Focus provided some recommendations to rail operators. These included providing as much notice as possible ahead of planned works and scheduling them when they will cause the least disruption. It was also suggested that a rail alternative should be offered when a line is closed. 

On a positive note for operators, despite the disruption to passengers’ journeys, many still recognised that the works were essential and would provide long-term benefits. 

Read the full report  here. 

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