It was bittersweet news for rail passengers last week – Southern passengers learned they’ll get compensated for the poor services they’ve endured of late, they, along all other rail users, discovered fares will rise by an average of 2.3% from 2 January. But, do you think your train service is improving?
If you’re one of Southern’s passengers then, the chances are that, this compensation offering is small fry for what you’ve endured recently.
And whether you’re a passenger of Southern or not, you may well be troubled by the news of fare hikes, which just so happens to be the largest average rise in three years.
Surely such an increase would be all the more palatable if you could be guaranteed improvements to your service?
Rail passenger rights
As some of you may recall, last year, we made our super-complaint to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), after our research into access to compensation for rail delays and cancellations found that millions was going unclaimed every year, with only around 34% of affected passengers actually claiming.
It was clear to us that not enough was being done to inform passengers of their rights to compensation. And so we launched our Make Rail Refunds Easier campaign and made a super-complaint to the ORR.
In November, the government responded to our super-complaint on compensation for rail delays. It confirmed that it supports all improvements recommended by the ORR.
Over the past year, alongside our almost 50,000 supporters, we’ve been campaigning to get train companies to make their passengers more aware of their rights to claim compensation for train delays and take steps to make the process of claiming easier.
Getting a better service
And indeed it seems that rail passengers should be expecting improvements. The government has agreed that much more is needed from train companies and it has set out its own plan to ensure the regulator and industry push through these improvements promised in response to our super-complaint.
In fact, today, the government announced plans to reform the way rail infrastructure is managed with a review of how Network Rail shares the running of the tracks with train companies. According to the government, its plan to coordinate track control between Network Rail and train companies will improve the daily running of railways and therefore improve services for passengers.
Some of you will also recall that back in October, after waiting and waiting, we finally saw an extension of compensation rights for rail passengers to be included under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
And at the same time it was announced that rail passengers will be able to claim ‘Delay Repay’ compensation when trains are delayed by 15-29 minutes. Previous rules had only enabled passengers to claim for delays of at least 30 minutes.
This new compensation threshold will be introduced in a staggered roll-out, starting with Southern passengers, who will be able to claim for these delays from 11 December. Dates for other train companies are yet to be confirmed.
On the right track?
So, while it would seem that we could well be on the right track to seeing real improvements for passengers, much more is needed to get rail passengers a fairer deal and a better service. With improvements promised but still yet to be delivered, our work here is far from over.
Announcements on next steps for Which?’s rail campaign will be coming soon. But in the meantime, tell us: do you think train services are improving? What else would you like to see to to improve your train service?