Transport User Voice – September 2022 – Director’s editorial

25 August 2022

Rail has been under pressure

The long hot summer of ’22 continues. Temperatures raised further again this month with rail services very much under the magnifying glass.

Disruption to services for passengers across Great Britain through a series of strikes has very much been front and centre of everyone’s attention. While the railway responded well for those passengers who had to use services on strike days, Transport Focus continued to press the industry for improvements. Our main targets are better information and easier access to ticket refunds and compensation. Our work during the national rail strikes can be found here.

Also during the month we saw Avanti West Coast introduce an emergency timetable reducing services to Euston across its network to just four trains per hour. Manchester is perhaps the hardest hit as it sees services reduced to just one train per hour.

We are in a unique position where we can talk to all the agencies involved to gain a clear picture of what is going on and how the impact on passengers. We’ll continue to keep an eye on how Avanti West Coast is delivering its emergency timetable as well as discussing with the operator, the Department for Transport and stakeholders where things can be done better for passengers.

August traditionally sees the flag raised for rail fare increases in the following new year. The July 2022 Retail Price Index announcement in the middle of the month saw the level hit 13.6 per cent. It was therefore good to hear that the Government is looking at a lower rate by breaking the link between the usual July RPI figure for regulated fares in England and holding this off until March 2023.

Away from rail, Government recently announced an extra £130 million to support bus services in England outside of London until March 2023. We know that, for many passengers, the bus is their only transport option for getting to work, school or leisure activities so this extra funding is welcome news. It’s important to keep services running both for the sake of these passengers, as well as for those who might be considering making the switch from car to public transport. This in particular will be key to helping the Government meet its decarbonisation goals.


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