Rail users let down over festive works

December 13 2017   | Region: Cymru Wales, East Midlands, East of England, London, North East & Cumbria, North West, Northern Ireland, Scotland, South East, South West, West Midlands, Yorkshire & the Humber

Rail users let down over festive works

Train passengers are being let down by rail firms which are failing to give proper warning about planned engineering works in the lead up to Christmas, user watchdog Transport Focus has claimed.

An investigation by the group found that passengers were able to buy tickets for trains that will not run over the festive period, and many are not being told in time if their journey will be disrupted.

“Failure to release timetables 12 weeks ahead of travel can mean passengers buy tickets for trains that will not run. That can’t be right,” said Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith.

The organisation is calling on the rail industry to carry out a network wide review to ensure Network Rail and train operators publish correct timetables 12 weeks ahead. Passengers, it says, need to know what the railway is doing so they can book tickets for events, organise family occasions and decide whether to travel or not.

It also urges the industry to notify passengers who have already bought tickets when there are changes to the timetable, highlighting that some will have made decisions based on inaccurate information, only to be caught out.

Transport Focus has written to Network Rail, the Rail Delivery Group and Great Western Railway to set out its concerns.

“Train operators’ advice is to book early at Christmas to get the best deal, but if the timetable has not been finalised only more expensive ‘on the day’ tickets can be bought,” said Anthony Smith. “Being forced to change plans because the railway hasn’t got this right will only result in more frustration from passengers.”

All three organisations that were written to said they would look to improve the situation for passengers in future. The Rail Delivery Group agreed that timetables and fares should be locked down 12 weeks in advance and if they are not, it should be made clear to people. A spokesman added: “Usually that is the case but it hasn’t happened this Christmas and we are sorry for the frustration this will have caused some customers.

“We are reviewing what has happened because we want to give customers a better service and we will report back in January 2018.”

Network Rail is planning to deliver improvement works worth £160M this Christmas across 260 projects, including an upgrade to Liverpool Lime Street Station and work on the Thameslink Programme.

(Photo: Network Rail)

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