ORR: TOCs Kept Passengers Well Informed during Hitachi Class 800 Cracking Issue

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has published a passenger impact review with findings showing that the train operators affected by the cracks in the Hitachi-built Class 800 trains kept their passengers ‘well informed’.

They provided clear and consistent information to travellers throughout the period of disruption.

The review looked at GWR, LNER, TPE and Hull Trains. Areas the ORR was interested in included the consistency and clarity of the travel and ticket refund information given, as well as the advice about alternative travel arrangements issued. The review further covered the information made available about ticket refunds by third-party retailers.

Noting that it can be challenging to keep information up-to-date when unexpected circumstances, arise, especially when an issue is so extensive, the ORR commended the train operating companies for responding well and for communicating quickly with those passengers who had booked assistance, offering travel support.

Recommendations

The ORR said there were some suggestions for the industry to help mitigate the impact on passengers during future disruption. For instance, operating companies and third-party vendors could make route maps for alternative travel available and implement website banner messages to draw attention to the disruption. In addition, the ORR said there were times when TOCs and third-party vendors could be clearer around when a fee for a ticket refund is not payable.

Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director of Consumers, ORR, said:

“It is evident that lessons have been learned from previous incidents and despite some initial uncertainty about the level of disruption, the situation quickly stabilised and appropriate arrangements were put in place to provide prominent, clear and consistent information to passengers.

“Nevertheless, we have identified areas aimed at further reducing the impact on passengers should similar disruption occur in future.

“We have written to the Rail Delivery Group to share these cross-industry findings, as well as to train companies and third-party retailers to reinforce the need for clarity and consistency of refund information. We will be working with industry to discuss where improvements can be made.”

 

ScotRail was not included in this review because the impacts on its services had been minimal: of the approximately 2,000 services operated, 19 had a reduced number of carriages and there were no cancellations.

The safety review will be ongoing, the ORR said, to ensure lessons are learned from the issue.

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