Bank holidays are great for getting an extra day in to visit family and friends. But travelling can be chaotic. And to make matters worse, improvements to your travel rights have been delayed … again.
After the trauma of travelling over the Easter bank holiday, I’m not sure I can face it this weekend. My journey from Newcastle to London was due to take three hours. ‘Great – I’ll be home in time for a relaxing evening’ – I thought to myself. Not so.
I arrived home just before midnight – a whole eight and a half hours later, having had my train cancelled with no advice on how to continue South, and enduring a long wait on a packed platform, a sprint to catch another train, a diversion via Manchester and the remainder of my journey spent perching on bag filled luggage rack. Fed up didn’t quite cover it.
Notably, not once on this ordeal was passengers’ right to a refund mentioned.
Further passenger rights delayed
Earlier this month, while Parliament was on recess, the Government slipped out the news that they were extending the exclusion for rail, bus, air and maritime passengers from the Consumer Rights Act 2015 for a further 6 months … with additional plans to seek a further exemption for rail passengers up until October 2017.
This isn’t good enough. When faced with a shoddy service, rail passengers shouldn’t be second class citizens. They should have the same rights consumers have in other sectors.
Not only does this give rail companies a free pass for how they treat their passengers, it also undermines the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) recommendations outlined in their response to our super-complaint.
The ORR called for improvements to passenger compensation arrangements by October 2016 – certainly no suggestion to delay improving passenger rights in their response.
We’re concerned that the process used by the Government to try delaying passenger rights is a little sneaky. So we’ve laid out our concerns over the lack of parliamentary scrutiny in a letter to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, who investigated and rebuked Ministers in their report published this week.
Given the Government’s plans and actions, it looks like passengers will be missing out once again. And despite the rail regulator’s own recommendations.
Be it a bank holiday or any other day of the year rail passengers deserve to be treated better. I witnessed it first hand with my eight and a half hour delay. Improvements are needed.
So we’ll be continuing to raise our concerns in Parliament oppose these changes and push for rail passengers to be given the rights they deserve.
What about you then, are you braving bank holiday rail travel this weekend? Or, like me, are you staying put and avoiding the travel chaos?