Transport User Voice September 2023 – Rail disruption

31 August 2023

What passengers want to know

Passengers are calling for better information ahead of planned engineering works.

Our latest report gives a detailed picture of the impact of engineering works on passengers for the new Old Oak Common station on the Great Western Main Line/new HS2 route and the electrification of the Midland Main Line.

As this is the first piece of passenger research about engineering work we’ve done post pandemic the report also looks at how attitudes to planned disruption have changed. Passengers have told us they want more and improved information ahead of time so that they can make an informed decision about their journey.

There were some different views on the timing of engineering works. Traditional weekend work was often not the best option for some passengers – for longer works some thought that a full week’s closure may be better.

This reflects the change in the use of the railway post pandemic with an increase in leisure travel and flexible working patterns with more home working on traditional commuting days during the week.

Our recommendations to train operators, Network Rail and HS2 will help make sure passenger communications hit the mark during any significant period of disruption.


There are a range of recommendations on how to communicate and minimise disruption to passengers during engineering work:

  • the railway should consider the ‘least bad’ time to undertake disruptive engineering work bearing in mind the mix of passengers making different journeys on the route in question
  • the railway should outline the impact on passengers’ travel options at least six months in advance. This would allow, among other things, holidays to be arranged to avoid the works and so commuters are aware when renewing season tickets
  • the railway should offer compensation such as temporary fare reductions or ‘extra days’ on season tickets during periods of sustained disruption.

Transport Focus will use this research to help the rail industry to improve communications to passengers and inform future policy for the planning of engineering works.

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