Have you ever felt frustrated when the station manager announces the dreaded ‘delay’ word over a tannoy? Kirsty Ivanoski-Nichol, Transparency Manager at Network Rail, explains what they’re doing to help…
As someone who regularly commutes by train I know that delays can be frustrating. A train is mysteriously cancelled, or slowed down by additional stops just as you’re within reach of home. But why does this happen? And what do the acronyms and railway terms – so often bandied about – actually mean?
When we polled people this spring they said they wanted to hear more about the causes of delay. So we set about expanding our delays explained pages. The aim is to get to a point where people can make sense of what they hear if there’s a delay.
Why is your train delayed?
I work at Network Rail but I wouldn’t claim to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the railway. So it’s been written in plain English and – essentially – tested on me. If I couldn’t understand the explanations, there was a good chance passengers wouldn’t be able to either.
As well as the webpages we’ve tried to bring the explanations to life and get closer to passengers. So the most recent addition is a ‘knock on delays’ film. It shows why, if there’s a problem somewhere you might think unrelated to your journey, it can still cause you disruption. And it’s currently showing in a station near you!
People tell us they’re glad we’re being more honest about the challenges we face. Most of us ultimately think of the railway as a public service. And we at Network Rail receive substantial government funding.
Being honest about train delays
This is all part of our wider ambition to set the standard for transparency. Not just in the rail industry, but in the corporate world. So we’ve also done things like open up some of our data feeds, and developers have been able to transform them into exciting apps and websites. Like Raildar.co.uk which features live departure boards for every station on the network. And CityMapper which combines our data with other transport providers so that passengers have up to the minute travel information while they’re on the move. These and more are helping passengers make informed decisions about how they get from A to B.
As part of our polling we asked people whether they think we’re a transparent company. A third told us they think we are. Not a bad start. But around half don’t know whether we are or not. Transparency is something we – at Network Rail – are absolutely committed to. But we recognise that we’ve got some way to go.
So what’s your view on our approach? And what do you think we should be making more of an effort to explain?
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Kirsty Ivanoski-Nichol, Transparency Manager at Network Rail. All opinions expressed here are Kirsty’s own, not necessarily those of Which?.