Transport User Voice – Train passengers being misled in the run up to Christmas

19 December 2017

Our latest investigation leads to a win for passengers

In the lead up to Christmas, we found that passengers were able to buy tickets for trains that will not run or would be disrupted by engineering works. We wrote to the chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group with concerns that passengers were being misled. The Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, has now ordered an “immediate investigation”.

Passengers need to know about railway disruptions so they can book tickets for events, organise family occasions or even decide whether to travel or not. If changes are made to the timetable, it means some passengers will have made decisions based on inaccurate information – only to be caught out.

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said:

“Failure to release timetables 12 weeks ahead of travel can mean passengers buy tickets for trains that will not run. That can’t be right.

“Train operators’ advice is to book early at Christmas to get the best deal, but if the timetable has not been finalised only more expensive ‘on the day’ tickets can be bought.

“Being forced to change plans because the railway hasn’t got this right will only result in more frustration from passengers. The rail industry must act urgently to make sure the timetable is accurate 12 weeks ahead if passengers are to trust they are on their side.”

Transport Focus is calling on the rail industry to:

  • carry out a network-wide review to ensure Network Rail and train operators publish correct timetables 12 weeks ahead
  • notify passengers who have already bought tickets when there have been changes to the timetable
  • make sure timetable information on the internet which is known to be wrong is removed or warnings are applied.

The Rail Delivery Group has now shared its plan for how it intends to improve industry performance.

We will be checking again in advance of the next major period of engineering works at Easter to ensure published timetables are correct.

You can read the letters on our website here.

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