Watchdog urges rail industry to use Reading works as ‘best practice guide’ for Olympics

Passenger Focus is urging the rail industry to use the Reading station improvement project as a ‘best practice’ guide for handling future works and in the run up to the Olympics.

The independent passenger watchdog has today published the research ‘Reading Station engineering works – what passengers want’.

Passenger Focus said the case study should give the industry a good steer on planning passenger communications for future weekend and bank holiday disruption.

In fact, the watchdog believes that lessons learned could be applied to all major construction projects where passengers and the wider community are going to be affected.

Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said:

“There is an opportunity here for the industry and those planning the Olympics to take passengers on a journey. To explain what work is required, where and when disruption will happen, what are the alternatives for journey planning and, importantly, the benefits the work will bring.”

Passenger Focus’s research found that industry efforts to coordinate information about the work in the run up to the closure and during the disruption made a positive difference to passengers’ experience.

The research also found that during disruption, passengers preferred using alternative, but longer rail routes, rather than changing to a replacement bus-service.

The Reading project, which included work on a new bridge, the station, signalling and line infrastructure, resulted in major disruption to the timetable over the festive period and prompted Passenger Focus to survey passengers affected.

Passengers were asked to rate how and when they learnt about disruption, their journey experience, what improvements they expect to see as a result of the engineering works and how the disruption could have been better managed.

Anthony Smith concluded: “The industry worked really hard to ensure that passengers were well informed about disruption and this resulted in positive feedback from passengers.

“Passengers were told early on that disruption was happening and what impact this would have on their journeys. Some excellent ‘best practice’ has been identified and should help industry plan its communications during future work as it gets Britain’s transport system ready for the Olympics.”

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