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Official rail watchdog is needed says report

By Thomas Morton | Shrewsbury | Transport | Published:

A rail ombudsman should be set up a consumer watchdog has said, as little progress has been made tackling delays and complaints in 10 years.

Arriva Trains Wales currently fares slightly better than average

Consumer group Which? has conducted a new analysis of figures from the past decade and says there has been virtually no progress on fixing “dire” satisfaction scores for the handling of rail delays and the management of complaints by rail operators.

The group claims passengers are being failed and has called on the Government to introduce a rail ombudsman to resolve disputes more efficiently.

The analysis is of Transport Focus data across rail operators in the UK and shows passenger satisfaction of how delays are dealt with stands at just 35 per cent, while just 46 per cent are happy with the way complaints are managed – compared with 32 per cent and 42 percent respectively a decade ago.

Punctuality satisfaction has fallen by five percentage points to 72 per cent over the same period, its worst level in the past 10 years, while satisfaction with value for money has stayed stubbornly low, up by only seven per centage points to 47 per cent.

Arriva Trains Wales, which runs stations and services in Shropshire, Mid Wales and part of the West Midlands region, currently fares slightly better than average, with latest figures showing a satisfaction rating on handling delays at 42 per cent, punctuality at 80 per cent, value for money at 61 per cent and overall satisfaction with journey at 82 per cent.

But like other operators those figures have remained roughly equivalent over the past year or so.

Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets, said nationally there had been little movement for a long time, and in the case of delays and managing complaints it was “not good enough”.

He said: “Our analysis highlights that the rail industry has been failing its passengers, particularly in the way they handle delays and manage complaints. This just isn’t good enough for the millions of people who are reliant on rail services on a daily basis.

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“The Government’s election manifesto made strong promises to help rail passengers, who deserve much better when rail services fail to deliver.”

“That is why we need to see the powers and duties of the regulator strengthened, with the Government swiftly pressing forward on its plans to introduce a rail ombudsman.”

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators and Network Rail, said: “Rail companies are working together and investing to improve services across Britain for the long term, including more trains more often and simpler fares. We’re making journeys better and we’re sorry when customers don’t get the service they expect.”

“Four-in-five people say they are satisfied with their train journey and the long-term trend is one of falling customer complaints,” he added.

Thomas Morton

By Thomas Morton
@tmorton_star

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star

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