Transport User Voice September 2023 – Do not travel messages
31 August 2023
What are passengers’ views?
Transport Focus has found that rail passengers are confused when trains are running but they are told not to travel by train companies.
Passengers’ reactions differed to ‘do not travel’ messages due to major disruption, extreme weather and flooding for example, depending on the timing and language used. Many passengers struggled with the whole notion that the railway runs trains but tells people not to use them.
Severe weather disruption in October 2021, which affected events and travel including the COP26 climate summit triggered the rail industry to look at how communications could be improved for passengers.
As well as the most appropriate way to communicate, passengers were asked what they understood existing ‘do not travel’ messages to mean, and if they provided the right information to make informed decisions about their journey. The research also includes passenger reactions to a range of potential improvements to existing messaging including feedback on content, language used, tone and impact on passenger behaviour.
The research shows that passengers can be annoyed when they know trains are running but are told not to use them – and would rather be given the facts so they can make an informed decision. Train companies should steer clear of baffling jargon like ‘ticket easement’ and make sure they communicate in ways passengers will immediately understand.
- Passengers feel that the standard messaging is largely clear but it needs to be in plain English and avoid technical terminology.
- Saying ‘do not travel’ when trains are running can mean passengers are confused and irritated.
- Some passengers will always try to make a journey in the face of disruption – they tend to feel that their journey is not ‘deferrable’.
- The information passengers require varies depending on where they are in their journey – have they started out or are they still close to home.
This research has generated valuable lessons on passenger reactions and understanding of those three simple words ‘do not travel’. We will continue to work with train operators and across the rail industry to ensure that passenger communication is a priority during the severest disruption.
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