This isn’t just my opinion, it’s a licence condition, condition 4 of the Passenger Licence and GB Statement of National Regulatory Provisions to be precise.
The improvement plan
Back in November 2019 ORR wrote to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) after our research on the provision of information to passengers showed improvement was needed.
In that letter we asked Network Rail and train operators to work together under the governance of RDG to publish a passenger information improvement plan.
That improvement plan became the Smarter Information, Smarter Journeys (SISJ) programme.
Progression is evident
SISJ is a single industry strategy, with structured governance and high levels of participation.
In its October 2022 report I was encouraged to read how cross-industry membership is enabling progress to be made by the individual projects that make up the programme.
- upgrading the information shown on station screens to a new minimum standard
- making provision for future sharing of real time station facility data, for example station lifts
- introducing notifications to passengers if their booked train changes between booking and travel.
As these improvements are rolled out, people will be able to book further ahead with more confidence.
Significant events such as the October 2021 storms, followed by the hot weather, industrial action and arrangements for Her Majesty The Queen’s funeral this year have all tested information provision.
There is no doubt that the collaborative approach of SISJ has been vital in the response to these incidents and raising the standard of information received by passengers.
Customer information pledges
Another deliverable from the programme has been the Pledges. These commit the industry to a set of guiding principles that will bring consistency to the information provided to passengers when they travel by train.
- providing a list of dates that are available for booking advance tickets
- letting you know when the train is approaching the next station to give you time to get ready to leave the train
- helping with directions if an alternative route that you are not familiar with is suggested
- making it clear that if you are encouraged to travel on a different train, route or operator because of disruption there will be no extra charge and you don’t have to change your ticket.
In April 2022 we accepted the industry request to use the Pledges as the regulated code of practice that is required under the passenger information licence condition.
The Pledges should be easy to find on all train operator websites, National Rail and RDG.
A short link of trainoperator.co.uk/pledges should go straight to them or you can find them on the RDG website at raildeliverygroup.com/pledges.
What is ORR doing in this area?
Since asking the industry for its improvement plan we have been working with the programme and have been part of some of the detailed workstreams.
We are now working with individual operators as we check for compliance with the Pledges. In addition, we continue to monitor information in general around such areas as engineering work including blockades, timetable provision, and by reviewing incidents that have a high passenger impact.