Transport User Voice – June 2021 – Chief executive’s editorial

26 May 2021

Welcome changes are around the corner

Slow train coming, but still mighty welcome. The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail looks generally good. Our insight work with passengers during the preceding rail review focused on accountability – who is in charge of my service? Who is in charge of the whole train set?

Joining the planning, finances, trains and track in one place makes sense assuming this new powerful body is responsive to its passengers. Transport Focus will play a key part in making sure that is the case.

While passengers will ultimately judge any review on its delivery of more reliable, better value for money, clean trains with space to stand or sit in some comfort, this plan is a big step in the right direction. The industry, facing lower passenger numbers and revenue, has to become more efficient. We would argue this needs to accompanied by a ‘dash for passengers’ – going for growth as well.

Change is in the air on the buses as well. Our work to help underpin the Bus Back Better Government plan is focusing on helping bus companies and local authorities measure passenger satisfaction. We are also offering to help with passenger charters, local representation, performance dashboards and complaints handling.

On the roads traffic levels continue to rise. This strikes me as odd as commentators talk about avoiding a ‘car-based recovery’. Well, it has happened already. Our work helping to make sure the Strategic Road Network is safe and reliable to enable smooth journeys continues. The Strategic Roads User Survey is back in field and will report soon. Also, another regulatory target, our Logistics and Coach Survey: Strategic Roads, has been published. We’ll also have more on electric vehicle recharging coming out as well.

Rail passengers in some parts of the country faced disruption earlier this month while the train cracks issue was ongoing. We responded by pressing train companies to improve their website information to help passengers planning to travel. We also wrote to the Rail Delivery Group asking it to ensure the industry focused on three main things: clear information on which services were running, frankness about social distancing, and clarity on refunds.

If your service was delayed or cancelled, make sure you claim compensation or get your money back! It’s important the industry learns lessons from this episode. We’ve identified areas for improvement and shared that with train companies to help them respond better in future.

So, travel safe and see you soon.


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