Rail punctuality leading complaints as regulator intervenes over Grand Central and CrossCountry response times

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Punctuality and reliability continued to be the top cause of passenger complaints accounting for 18.6% of all rail passenger complaints between 1 October to 31 December 2022. Crowding (12.1%) and issues with ticketing and refunds (9.2%) complete the top 3 complaint categories.

Official figures on passenger rail service complaints released today by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show train companies closed 97,254 complaints in the latest quarter, an increase of 8% from the same quarter in the previous year.

This represents a rate of 26.4 complaints per 100,000 journeys.

ORR requires train operators to provide passengers with a timely and good quality response, as a minimum, responding to 95% of complaints within 20 working days.

In the latest quarter, 92.9% of complaints were closed within 20 working days. This has mainly been driven by the poor performance of Grand Central and CrossCountry. ORR has taken action and recovery plans put in place from Grand Central and CrossCountry are showing progress.

Between July and September 2022, Grand Central only responded to 22.9% of complaints within 20 working days. This has increased to 66.2% in the latest quarter.

CrossCountry has increased from 13.9%.to 30.3%. This is still far from full compliance and ORR is continuing to engage with the companies to ensure everything possible is being done to ensure a sustained and robust improvement.

The latest statistics are published shortly after ORR’s new Complaints Code of Practice for all train companies came into force on 1 April 2023.

The new Code of Practice is designed to embed a culture where insights from complaints are used to drive continuous improvement and to incentivise quality and timeliness in complaints handling, which are the key drivers of passenger satisfaction with the complaints handling process.

Stephanie Tobyn, Director of Strategy, Policy and Reform at ORR said:

“Passenger complaints are a barometer of how train companies are performing. No passenger wants to have to complain, but when they do the process needs to be simple, in a suitable format and timely.

“Grand Central and Cross Country have not been delivering the complaints service they should and we’re starting to see improvements following our intervention. We will be watching closely as this progress need to continue apace.”

Photo credit: ORR

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