Today, Which? recognises Paul Maynard MP’s championing of train passengers’ rights, presenting him with our Positive Change Award. Our guest author on Convo today, Paul discusses his achievements.
As a Member of Parliament, I often find myself speaking with constituents when things, for whatever reason, have gone wrong. As a Government Minister you have the opportunity not only to step in reactively, but to take the initiative.
In an industry as complicated as Britain’s railways, improvements cannot always be made overnight. The government has invested significantly in infrastructure projects, matched by operators’ funding of new rolling stock which will not only benefit commuters in the South East but across the network.
I know that passengers have recently faced challenging conditions on the railways, therefore it was important to me to help develop an industry focused on the customer.
During my time as a Minister at the Department for Transport, significant steps were taken to improve passengers’ rights, not least the decision to introduce a Rail Ombudsman with the consent of industry. This ensures rail operators should be subject to the same rules under the Consumer Rights Act as other retailers.
I also introduced measures to improve accessibility across the network, launching the accessibility action plan, designed to ensure that people with physical and less visible disabilities have the same access as everyone else to transport and opportunities to travel.
It’s also right that Train Operating Companies roll out Delay Repay when things go wrong. I’m proud that on 13 October 2016 we announced ‘Delay Repay 15’ – an improved compensation scheme for passengers that allows them to claim if their train is more than 15, rather than 30, minutes late. From 1 December 2017, this scheme was rolled out across the network.
While I may now have moved on from the Department for Transport, I remain hopeful that passengers will benefit from the changes I helped introduce, and that work to deliver a customer-focused railway will continue.
It is a genuine honour to receive the Which? Positive Change Award from the UK’s top consumer rights organisation, and I hope to continue to work in government to deliver for the British public.