Transport User Voice – July 2022 – National rail strikes
29 June 2022
Our work to help passengers
The latest national rail strikes are over. Passengers have persevered through a tough week.
When the series of recent rail strikes was first announced, Transport Focus got ready to measure the impact on passengers.
In the days before strike action began on 21 June, we spoke to more than 2000 people across Britain to find out how it would affect their upcoming travel plans. We found that 16 per cent had originally planned to travel between 21 and 26 June. Of these:
- around one in five still planned to travel on strike days and were aware of the strike
- around one in 10 were planning to travel but were unaware of any impending strike action until we asked them about it.
You can read the full report on pre-strike intentions and information survey here.
But it’s hearing about passenger experiences that really brings the impact of strike action to life. We received feedback through our Transport User Panel about the disruption it was causing on a personal level.
One woman told us she’ll now have to wait seven weeks for a hospital appointment because of the strikes. We heard from others who had to arrange for colleagues to make a long detour to collect them.
Some had to pay out extra for hotels or lost money on event tickets. The refund process wasn’t always straightforward either, adding to the frustration. One passenger told us that although the website was clear on using alternative trains, gate staff at his station didn’t know the new rules.
Many can now work from home and avoid the worst of the disruption, but there are key workers, students and those with hospital appointments who still need to travel. If there are no trains, some just can’t get there. If you don’t have an alternative, it can ruin your plans.
We were out and about visiting railway stations to check if information and staffing levels were sufficient for those who were travelling. Experiences varied from station to station with learnings and good practice fed back to the industry. It was clear overall though, with numbers visibly down on the norm, that most people had heeded the advice to stay home.
Throughout a week of disruption, it was vital that operator and ticket retailer websites, and information channels, provided passengers with the information they needed to make their journeys. It doesn’t make the problem go away, but helping passengers understand which trains are running and which aren’t is a necessity.
As a direct result of our work, National Rail Enquiries made it clearer on their website that reduced timetables and a later start to services were in place on days following strike action. On any future strike days, South Western Railway agreed to place notices on ticket vending machines cautioning passengers to check the timetable before they buy a ticket.
Industrial action is over for now, but it’s vital that agreement can be found to avoid further disruption and prevent rail passengers once again bearing the brunt.
You can find more information on our dedicated strikes page here.
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