Transport User Voice May 2023 – Around Great Britain

27 April 2023

An update on our work

West Midlands

Employees, managers, and leaders from train operators in the West Midlands will come together on 28 April for the second regional customer experience day. This is part of the Grand Railway Collaboration’s focus on outstanding customer service and includes 70 plus front-line staff through to managing directors, as well as our own chief executive, Anthony Smith.

This event will include a range of updates on what is happening to improve closer working, revenue protection and passenger information during periods of disruption.

Transport Focus has been working with West Midlands Trains and the West Midlands Rail Executive to improve the customer experience through the Service Quality Regime process. Positive progress is being made with Network Rail and Transport for West Midlands already committed to working on issues together to help provide a seamless and improved experience for passengers.

Testing is now underway on Metro tram services to directly connect it with Wolverhampton railway station and are planned to operate from June. Along with a new cycle hub, the direct tram connection will be the final pieces of the jigsaw to ensure Wolverhampton has a fully connected interchange serving the city.


Transport for Wales performance

Transport Focus has written to Transport for Wales (TfW) raising concerns about its service reliability and performance and the impacts on passengers. We are challenging TfW to set out its action for restoring reliability, improving information provision, monitoring, and improving the experience of rail replacement services, and giving greater focus to complaint handling quality. You can read our letter here.

Rail Cymru conference

Transport Focus made sure the voice of the passenger was heard at the Rail Cymru conference in Cardiff earlier this month. The rail industry came together to share best practice and hear about the work being done across Wales.

David Beer, Transport Focus senior manager Wales, presented our findings on what matters to rail passengers in Wales and the five top issues which form our research – value for money, punctuality and reliability, sufficiently frequent trains, getting a seat on the train and accurate and timely information and train times. Our most recent Rail User survey also shows low levels of passenger satisfaction in many of these areas. Additional measures such as more station parking, better connections with other transport and accessibility are also seen as essential to encourage more travel by train.

James Jackson from Network Rail opened the conference, speaking about bringing the different parts of the railway together in collaboration, with a real focus on delivering ‘on time to three minutes’ punctuality for passengers, which we know is a key priority for improvement.

Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters MS was candid about rail in Wales. He said, ‘If we’re serious about people choosing public transport instead of the car, we have a serious amount of work to do to make it the easiest way to get around”.


Grand Union Trains

We recently met Grand Union Trains to hear about its plans to introduce a new service between Stirling and London along the west coast main line.

If approved by the Office of Rail and Road, services on this route will start in 2025 and will operate four times per day. Starting at Stirling it will call at Larbert, Greenfaulds (for Cumbernauld), Whifflet (for Coatbridge and Airdrie), Motherwell and Lockerbie in Scotland and in England at Carlisle, Preston, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes, before terminating at London Euston.

The line will avoid Edinburgh and Glasgow stations, giving passengers a faster service without any changes required. Electric or dual mode trains will be used along the route, with a potential travelling speed of up to 125mph.

Autonomous bus services

We met Stagecoach last year to discuss its ambitious plan to introduce an autonomous bus service between Fife and Edinburgh. We heard that plans have developed, and Stagecoach proposes to launch the service on 15 May.

The 14-mile route will run between Ferrytoll park and ride in Fife and Edinburgh Park train and tram interchange, crossing the Forth Road Bridge. Five single-decker autonomous buses will have capacity for about 10,000 passenger journeys per week.

The vehicles have sensors enabling them to travel on pre-selected roads at up to 50mph.They will have two members of staff on board; a safety driver will sit in the driver’s seat to monitor the technology, and a bus captain will help passengers with boarding, buying tickets and queries.


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