Transport User Voice – November 2016 – Case study

26 October 2016

Mrs R and two friends booked to travel with South West Trains (SWT) from London Waterloo to Honiton on the evening of 4 May.

When they arrived at the station they were shocked to find that all trains to Honiton had been cancelled due to disruption. The group was understandably unsure about how to complete the journey.

On the advice of staff at Waterloo, the group took another train, but ended up having to get off at Salisbury. As they arrived at midnight there were no available connections that would take them the rest of the way home. The only other option they had was to share a taxi with some other passengers, which cost them £44.

Mrs R contacted South West Trains a few days later. The company sent her £60 in Rail Travel Vouchers. The cost of the tickets and the taxi fare had come to £175.85 in total. Mrs R felt that the £60 vouchers were not adequate, given the inconvenience and distress that was caused, not to mention the time spent waiting outside in the cold. She therefore got in touch with Transport Focus, and specifically requested a refund of the taxi fare and rail tickets as compensation for the experience.

When we approached SWT for more information on the case we learned that the train Mrs R was on had ‘split’ at Salisbury. The three passengers were in the wrong portion of the train, which is why they were left stranded in Salisbury.

However, the company reviewed the case and was unhappy with the time that was taken to respond to Mrs R. In light of this, and the discomfort experienced by the passengers, SWT agreed to send a cheque to cover the full cost of the tickets and taxi fare as a goodwill gesture. It also assured us that the quality of the original responses would be raised with the customer service advisor who handled the case with appropriate action to follow.

Mrs R was happy to accept the cheque and was impressed with our handling of her complaint. Transport Focus was pleased with the outcome, as the value of the cheque went above what is due in the SWT Passenger Charter.

We felt that SWT should have been more efficient in the original response, and should have shown discretion earlier. However, we were happy that this was reviewed with the relevant staff member in the hope that this will encourage best practice within the customer service department.


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