Train operators kept passengers well informed during ‘cracks issue’, regulator finds

An Office of Rail and Road (ORR) passenger impact review, published today, shows that train operators affected by the cracks found in a component on the Hitachi 800 trains were still able to provide clear and consistent information to passengers during the disruption.

ORR’s review focused on four train operators: Great Western Railway (GWR); London North Eastern Railway (LNER); TransPennine Express (TPE); and Hull Trains. The review covered areas such as consistency and clarity of travel information, ticket refund information and advice to passengers on alternative travel arrangements. ORR also examined the information provided by third-party retailers about ticket refunds.

In unexpected circumstances such as this, it can be difficult to keep information up to date, especially when the extent of disruption is changing all the time. Yet, with minor exceptions, these train operators performed well. They also reacted quickly to contact passengers who had booked assistance to provide them with information about the disruption and to offer alternative travel support.

But there are some issues for further consideration by the industry to reduce the impact on passengers in any future disruption. These include providing route maps for alternative travel and using website banner messaging to highlight disruption.

ORR also found that train operators and third-party retailers could sometimes be clearer on the circumstances in which a fee for refunding a ticket is not payable.

Stephanie Tobyn, deputy director of consumers, said:

“It is evident that lessons have been learned from previous incidents and despite some initial uncertainty about the level of disruption, the situation quickly stabilised and appropriate arrangements were put in place to provide prominent, clear and consistent information to passengers.

“Nevertheless, we have identified areas aimed at further reducing the impact on passengers should similar disruption occur in future.

“We have written to the Rail Delivery Group to share these cross-industry findings, as well as to train companies and third-party retailers to reinforce the need for clarity and consistency of refund information. We will be working with industry to discuss where improvements can be made.”

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