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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Passengers ‘want honesty’ when they face rail delays

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In a report released last month, the independent passenger watchdog Passenger Focus has found that some passengers ‘do not believe the reasons given to explain delays and cancellations’.

The research suggests that passengers want ‘franker, more factual explanations of what has gone wrong’.

Passenger Focus worked in partnership with train company Southern, who wanted to understand how they can improve the information they give passengers when things have gone wrong.

The research built on earlier Passenger Focus research and involved focus groups of passengers who had recent experience of unplanned disruption.

Key findings are that:

  • Accurate, timely and consistent information is critical because it allows passengers to make informed decisions about what they do
  • The attitude and empathy of railway staff towards passengers during disruption is a key factor
  • Passengers do not always trust the information they are given, particularly the reasons offered for delays and cancellations
  • Once caught up in a problem, passengers need to know how long they will be delayed – having that knowledge allows people to judge the impact on their day
  • Passengers want train companies to actively tell them if there are problems, particularly cancellations or if a temporary timetable is being introduced.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive said:

“Passengers understand that sometimes things do go wrong. This research confirms that accurate and timely information is crucial throughout the journey and that a good attitude from railway staff is vital.

“There are two other clear messages here: the railway needs to explain the causes of delay in language people trust and more needs to be done to warn people of problems, so they have a chance to change their plans and avoid it.”

Emma Toms, Southern’s Head of Customer Experience said:

“We were pleased to have the opportunity to work with Passenger Focus on this project.

“We fully recognise that comprehensive, timely and accurate information is what our passengers want, particularly in times of disruption.

“We are working hard on delivering this and I am confident our passengers will see a marked difference in future.”


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