Office of Rail and Road take action to improve passenger experience on railway

I wanted to alert you to two actions which Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has taken this week to improve the passenger experience on railways:

Yesterday ORR announced a consultation on plans to modify the complaints handling license conditions so that all rail companies would be required to join the Rail Delivery Group’s Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme, which is designed to ensure consumers have an independent means of complaint resolution.

This would mean all consumers would have the opportunity to refer their cases to an ombudsman if they were unhappy with how train companies had dealt with their complaints.

The consultation can be found here: http://orr.gov.uk/rail/consultations/open-consultations/changes-to-complaints-handling and closes on 20th September 2018.

You can read more about the scheme here: https://www.raildeliverygroup.com/media-centre/press-releases/2018/469774228-2018-07-18.html

ORR have sent a letter to Network Rail advising them to take four actions immediately to improve services for passengers after an investigation found systemic failings in the company’s general management of timetable changes.

The issues identified and actions required from Network Rail are as follows:

1. An immediate priority is the successful delivery of the December 2018 timetable, which is reliant on an effective and transparent process.

Action: Network Rail to provide a report to ORR by 31 August demonstrating how it is running an efficient, fair, effective and transparent process in revising upcoming timetables. ORR will assess progress, and report on this.

2. The revision of the December 2018 timetable means it will take longer to recover normal timescales for notifying changes to the timetable, but it is essential to establish this process as soon as possible.

Action: Network Rail to revise its recovery plan by 31 August to get timetables back to being agreed 12 weeks in advance (T-12) and for it to publicly report on progress.  This will include details of any late notice changes being considered and the reasons for those changes.

3. Network Rail’s timetabling resources and capability were, and continue to be, put under pressure by the increased scale of both short and long-term planning changes. Resourcing and capability of both Network Rail and industry planning teams is a risk to the delivery of future timetables.

Action: Network Rail to accelerate progress on ORR-approved plans to strengthen timetabling capability and resources, including specific indicators against which ORR will publicly report Network Rail’s progress. Network Rail will provide a first draft to us by 17 September.

4. There needs to be better coordination between the part of Network Rail carrying out the work (Infrastructure Projects) - and its timetabling function (System Operator).   

Action: Network Rail to speed up decisions on structural reform and provide ORR with a draft plan by 30 September.