Transport User Voice – June 2023 – Up your game on strike information

31 May 2023

Our message to the industry

Our message to train operators is to ‘up your game’ on strike information, as a new raft of industrial action disrupts passengers across Great Britain.

Strikes on the railway have now been going on for 11 months with the next ones for the ASLEF and RMT unions scheduled for 31 May, 2 June and 3 June. After 11 months of ‘practice’ it might be expected that the rail industry had got strike-related passenger information off to a tee.

Sadly not, and Transport Focus seems to be pointing out the same issues time and again. it’s not just us that’s finding issues. The rail industry’s own checks and monitoring is still finding things wrong on train company websites. So what are passengers saying about the prospect of more industrial action?

“Limited train times so limit my choice of travel.”

They will require me to take alternative routes which will take slightly longer but I will still be able to get to the places I need to get to.”

“Stopped one of my trains, turned my journey from 2.5 to 3.15 hours.”

“Will just mean I go on a different day. They affect me by feeling I’ve lost control of my life and affect me mentally.”

“Will need to travel by coach, will take longer.”

“I actually have a three-hour, in-person exam, so I’ll need to look into whether I can get to the exam centre without using the train.”

All of this disruption points to the ongoing need for excellent passenger information. Passengers need information both before and while making their journey and its useful to remember that some do not have a choice not to travel. Making sure that it’s crystal-clear what trains are running, what are not and how to claim refunds and make ticket changes is crucial.

We recently looked at what train operators are doing to support passengers during the industrial action. What were we looking for?  A while range of information but areas such as whether there was a prominent homepage message on train operator websites, and if more detail was provided on a specific strike page, were journey planners clear about the strikes. So what were the overall results?

Here are the headlines:

  • eight train operators were scored ‘red’ for very poor or no information
  • a further six train operators scored ‘amber’ with either poor information or it was difficult to find.

Seven days before the first strike in May, the checks were done again, this time looking at 14 elements of passenger information related to the forthcoming industrial action:

  • eight operators scored two or more ‘red’ alerts
  • five more operators had ‘amber’ alerts.

With seemingly no end in sight to the industrial action, we’ve written to all train operators asking them to up their game on passenger information. We’ve challenged them to achieve ‘greens’ across the board next time these checks are done. We also continue to urge all parties to get around the table and resolve this strike action as soon as possible.

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