Consumer expert panel


Our consumer expert panel provides independent advice to help us fulfil our vision of making the rail industry 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:

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
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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 - chairs the Thames Water Customer Challenge Group, is a non executive director of the Office of Rail and Road, a board member of ELEXON, the electricity settlement body, a lay member of the General Dental Council, an independent member of the Bank of England Enforcement Decision Making Committee, and a member of the Regulatory Decisions Committee of the FCA. She was previously Director of Regulatory Affairs for BT Group, leading the regulatory negotiations that led to the creation of Openreach, where she then became MD, Strategy. She has also been a board member of Ofqual, the qualifications regulator. Anne chairs a charity, Volunteering Matters, and is a trustee of NCVO, (which, subject to election, she will chair on an interim basis from November 2019) and BalletBoyz, She chairs the Governance and Nominations Committee of Diabetes UK and is a director of the London Design & Engineering UTC.

Carol Brennan - is a Reader in Consumer Policy and founding Director of the Consumer Dispute Resolution Centre at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Carol’s research interests include consumer policy, complaint management, dispute resolution, consumer empowerment and customer experience.  With a strong interest in knowledge exchange, Carol’s work bridges the gap between academia and policy/practice.  In addition to publishing regularly in academic journals, Carol has produced consumer policy and consumer dispute resolution reports for organisations including the report Grumbles, gripes and grievances: the role of complaints in transforming public services for the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. She has experience of leading projects to provide continuing professional development for complaint investigators. Carol is chair of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission Consumer Panel. She is also Chair of the Qualifications and Awards Board for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

Claire Whyley - is a professional researcher and policy analyst, focussing on consumer behaviour and decision-making, consumer protection and consumer-focussed regulation. She specialises in user-led, evidence-based and impact-focussed policy development, across a range of markets, with a particular interest in vulnerable and excluded consumers. She has delivered a number of research projects aiming to support organisations in putting consumers at the heart of their processes and decision-making, and has developed an e-learning module on consumer empowerment and market conduct. Claire is also a member of a number of other Boards and Consumer Panels, including the Civil Aviation Authority Consumer Panel, the Advertising Advisory Committee, the Finance and Leasing Association Lending Code Board, the Ofgem Stakeholder Engagement and Vulnerable Consumers Incentive Panel and the Board of the Money Advice Trust. She was previously Senior Research Fellow at the Personal Finance Research Centre, Head of Research and Policy at the Welsh Consumer Panel and Deputy Director of Policy at the National Consumer Council.

Trisha McAuley - is a recognised consumer expert, having been a former senior executive in national consumer organisations and awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to consumer affairs. She has been an influential public policy leader, working effectively, for over twenty years, with parliaments, governments, regulators, business and public services at strategic level.  Trisha has particular interest and expertise in regulated industries.  Trisha is currently: Board Member of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde; Chair of Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership; Board Member of Northern Ireland Water; Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland Discipline Board; Member of the Ofgem Gas Network Innovation Competition Panel; Member of the Civil Aviation Authority Consumer Panel; and Member of the Ofgem Consumer Progress Panel.  Trisha has also held former Board roles with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and East Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

Diane McCrea MBE - has direct experience of developing and delivering strategies and policies that reflect changing needs and aspirations in a range of diverse environments, including water, food, transport, housing, customer service and communications, and publishing.  She has extensive knowledge of evidence based policy, service delivery and improvements for consumers, customers, and the wider public in Wales, the UK, Europe and internationally. She has held a variety of non-executive positions in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

She is currently the Chair of Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales a charity dedicated to promoting sustainable development in Wales. Diane’s previous positions include Chair of Natural Resources Wales, Deputy Chair of the Consumer Council for Water for England and Wales, Chair of Shelter Cymru and Board Member of Transport Focus.

Ray Kemp - is an independent consultant who specializes in the public understanding of risk. Based in the UK near Cambridge, Ray works internationally. Until last year he was Honorary Professorial Fellow, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, and also Adjunct Professor of Risk and Sustainability at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. He is a Past President of the Society for Risk Analysis, Europe, and previously held the position of Honorary Visiting Professor of Risk Communication at the University of Surrey, Guildford, in the UK.

Rob Sheldon - has been involved with consumer research in the transport sector for forty years. He started life as a transport economist but soon realised that there was a need to understand customer views and motivations to help develop more workable strategies and policies. Rob is the MD of Accent, a research consultancy that operates across a number of regulated sectors including energy, water, post, health and finance in addition to all aspects of the transport sector. Rob introduced the stated preference methodology to the UK in the 1970s on a path-breaking project for the then British Railways Board and has worked on over 1000 applications since with the vast majority being within the transport sector.

Steve Gooding - Steve is Director of the RAC Foundation, an independent think-tank that commissions and disseminates research relating to motoring and roads issues. Steve took over the helm at the Foundation in May 2015 after a civil service career encompassing many transport-related roles, latterly as Director General for Roads, Traffic & Local at the Department for Transport, where his responsibilities included developing the first Roads Investment Strategy, the Transport Strategy for the North, administering funding for local government, policy on road safety, and the running of the motoring services agencies. After graduating from Durham University Steve joined the civil service in 1983, moving to the Department of Transport in 1987 where, amongst other roles, he was private secretary to transport ministers Peter Bottomley, Michael Portillo and Roger Freeman. Steve is a fellow of the CIHT, vice-president of the CILT and a trustee of the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund.

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: