Drop in punctuality during snow crisis

Drop in punctuality during snow crisis

Tue 4 Jan 2011

Trains watchdog Passenger Focus has criticised the flow of information to passengers who faced delays, cancellations and disruption during the severe weather over the Christmas period.

The group said the latest statistics, showing a drop in punctuality, will come as “no surprise” to passengers but its chief executive Anthony Smith said: “This is the third tough winter in a row and yet passengers’ grim stories continue to filter through.

“Passengers understand that severe weather can disrupt the railway and individual staff are doing their best in very difficult circumstances. However, what we passengers cannot forgive is the poor quality of information.

“The message from passengers is clear – treat us like human beings and give us useful, timely information, early notice of delays, and more help from railway staff when delays happen. Now passengers should send a message to the industry and claim compensation for any disruption to their journey.”

He said this week’s fare rises should encourage train companies to show “seasonal goodwill”.

David Quarmby, who has conducted reviews into the transport network’s winter resilience, released an independent report for the Government covering the disruption seen in late November and early December where he criticised inaccurate and sparse information online and at stations, tickets being sold for non-running trains and under-resourced staffing at National Rail Enquiries.

His report said: “There does not seem to be a cultural acceptance within the railway of the responsibility to constantly see a disruption situation from the viewpoint of the passengers, and to act accordingly to make the effort to keep passengers properly and constantly informed.

“Within the railway there is too much reliance on the electronic systems – and an apparent feeling of helplessness when the systems are not functioning or when the scale of disruption is such that the pre-programmed information on the systems cannot convey what needs to be said to delayed and frustrated passengers. There just is not enough flexibility.”

The Association of Train Operating Companies stressed throughout the disruption that the vast majority of services ran on-time.

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