Our Consumer Expert Panel provides independent advice to help us fulfil our vision of making the rail and road industries better for current and future consumers.
What's the role and purpose of the panel?
The panel will meet four times per year and play a key role in bringing a consumer perspective to our policy and regulatory decisions. By using their experience of other regulated sectors the panel advise and challenge us to deliver better outcomes for rail and road users.
What has the panel influenced?
The current panel has discussed a wide range of topics with colleagues from across all areas of ORR since its inception in 2017. These topics include:
- Providing feedback on ORR publications, including the annual rail consumer report and GB Rail’s financial reports.
- Providing insight to how ORR developed its new Accessible Travel Policy (ATP) guidance for train and station operators, as well as a review of Car Parks and the introduction of the Rail Ombudsman.
- Providing thoughts on how ORR should revise and/or communicate its policies on economic enforcement, crowding and health & safety risks.
- Providing roads colleagues with advice on how to measure performance and manage disruption on the UK road network and measuring performance on England’s strategic roads.
Additional work covered by a sub-set of the panel includes:
- Analysis of Network Rail’s CP6 stakeholder engagement plans in preparation for control period 6 (CP6).
- Conduct a critical review of complaint handling in regulated consumer sectors where there is an ombudsman scheme.
- Meeting with Highways England at their National Traffic Operations Centre to understand more about Highways England’s approach to customer service.
The panel members
The individual members of our panel bring a range of academic, advocacy, consumer research and commercial expertise to support the institutional members' expertise with rail and transport. Individual members currently include:
Anne Heal - Anne's involvement in consumer issues started at BT where she was the director of regulatory affairs. After spending more than 20 years in telecoms at BT and Openreach, she then chaired Thames Water's Customer Challenge Group and is a lay member of the General Dental Council. Anne is an experienced non-executive director who currently holds positions at Elexon and MOSL, where she is Chair. Anne is a member of the Regulatory Decisions Committee of the FCA and of the Enforcement Decision Making Committee at the Bank of England. Anne has previously chaired the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, is currently Chair of Volunteering Matters and is a trustee of a number of other charities.
Claudio Pollack - An economist by background and training, Claudio was a Director and Group Director at Ofcom for 10 years, in charge of Consumer Affairs, having been a manager in regulatory strategy at Cable & Wireless. Now an independent consultant, he advises in policy and advocacy across a range of regulated industries.
Sarah Chambers - Sarah is an expert in regulation, consumer and competition policy and advocacy. She is currently Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel and was one of the founder members of the Civil Aviation Authority Consumer Panel. She has a wide range of experience in the public, voluntary and private sectors, including as CEO of the postal services regulator, Director of Consumer & Competition Policy at the Department of Business, Panel Member of the Competition & Markets Authority, member of the Consumer Engagement Group of UK Power Networks, and independent non-executive director at the Payments Council.
Kate Denham - founder and CEO of The Public Good Company, Kate advises government, NHS, and third sector organisations on how to maximise their impact and deliver better outcomes for consumers. Prior to establishing her own company, Kate held several senior strategy roles in prominent organisations, including RNIB Group, and Monitor (now NHS Improvement). Throughout her 15-year career, Kate has been instrumental in helping organisations across various sectors redesign services to meet the evolving needs of consumers, both now and in the future.
In addition to her work in social enterprise and strategy, Kate has also become a passionate consumer advocate. As Vice Chair of a local Healthwatch, she held providers and commissioners accountable on the Health, Social Care and Scrutiny Sub Committee. She currently serves as a Board Member and Audit Committee Chair for Transport Focus, the independent voice of transport users. Kate has held board roles in both health and housing and is an experienced Non-Executive. Kate is committed to breaking down traditional barriers to participation and has designed, established, and become a trustee of Babyzone UK. With her extensive experience in disability charities, Kate is a passionate advocate for accessibility and inclusive design principles in public services.
Dr Ralitsa Hiteva - A Senior Research Fellow at the University of Sussex with experience in digital transformation and inclusion (including engagement with vulnerable groups), infrastructure governance and sustainability. Dr Hiteva's research involves working with local authorities, executive agencies, governments, social housing providers, NHS, innovators, and micro and small businesses, as well as SMEs.
She is currently leading several projects examining the development of place-based business models for Net Zero (including regional hydrogen solutions; nature-based solutions; and developing local skills for decarbonisation). Dr Hiteva is also a Principal Investigator of a multidisciplinary project investigating the environmental impact of digital technologies for health and wellbeing for users over the age of 55 in sheltered housing.
Dr Hiteva was a member of the first Customer Engagement Group for UK Power Networks overseeing the development of the DNO's 5 years business plan (2023- 2028) contributing to areas related to Sustainability, EAP, Facilitating Net Zero, Workforce Resilience and Vulnerability.
Helen Parker - has 30 years’ experience working on consumer issues, first in executive roles and now as a non-executive. She was a member of the senior leadership team of Which? for more than a decade. Her roles included Editorial Director, Policy Director and finally Deputy CEO. Helen now has a number of non-executive roles with a focus on consumer protection and empowerment. She is Deputy Chair of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which protects consumers when financial services companies fail, and a Committee member of Healthwatch England, the independent national champion for users of health and social care services. She is a member of Aegon’s Independent Governance Committee, whose role is to challenge the company on the quality and value for money offered to its two million workplace pension customers, and of the independent Challenge Group set up by energy regulator, Ofgem, to challenge both the regulator’s policy and the energy networks’ business plans for the next five year price control period.
Marie Pye - has been involved in the public sector for over 30 years in issues ranging from equality diversity and inclusion through to regulation. She is currently a member of the Independent Disciplinary Panel for the Bar Standards Board and a member of the Planning Advisory Committee for the London Legacy Development Corporation. Previously Marie was a member and then Chair of the TfL Independent Disability Advisory Group, Chair of the Defra Disability Advisory Group and a member of their Equality Advisory Group and a member of the Women and Local Government Commission. She has also worked in the charitable sector, for the Disability Rights Commission, for a major university and for the Premier League. She has also undertaken consultancy roles in a range of sectors including transport, finance, arts and sport.
James Walker - James is the founder of Resolver.co.uk, a free online complaints service that James grew to help over 18 million consumers a year to resolve their disputes. He has advised the Government on consumer issues and is a non executive Director for Consumer Scotland. A winner of Social Entrepreneur of the year, James is a non-executive for a number off start-ups. His focus is on helping businesses deliver market-leading customer service, while helping consumers understand and exercise their consumer rights. James has written four national newspaper columns.
Andrew Williams - Andrew is an economist and government affairs advocate. Over the last 17 years, he has been a regulator, as well as leading regulatory teams for 5 companies, across financial services, aviation and utilities sectors. He has led 14 multi-year regulatory reviews, including price controls and antitrust investigations. Andrew has engaged with governments and regulators in the UK, EU, US, Australia and Singapore; and has led public policy campaigns, including the economic case for runway expansion in London. Currently, Andrew is an advisor to the UK Government on regulation, as a Board Member of the Regulatory Policy Committee.
The panel also comprises institutional members that bring a range of sector specific expertise and research to understand the different needs and experiences of passengers that rely on Britain's railways: