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									     Autumn 2009 Issue 10

   Passenger Voice
   Independent national passenger watchdog

Regulated fares to fall in 2010
Passenger Focus warns of a ‘sting in the tail’ for some passengers as unregulated rail fares will go up in price
      assenger Focus, the
P     independent passenger
watchdog has highlighted that
                                      “After years of punishing,
                                      above inflation, fare rises some
                                      passengers will see a little light
                                                                                Government has limited
                                                                                the amount by which train
                                                                                companies could raise individual
                                                                                                                       operating company. “We are
                                                                                                                       also concerned that some train
                                                                                                                       operators will tinker with off
while commuters will welcome          in the New Year. The formula              regulated fares. We hope the           peak tickets restrictions, forcing
a slight reduction in most            that sets the limits of regulated         Government will continue this          passengers into buying more
season ticket prices, many            fares will finally work in                policy in future years.“However,       expensive tickets.”
unregulated fares will rise           passengers’ favour. Particularly          there is a sting in the tail. Many         Research published by
significantly more than inflation.    welcome is the fact that,                 unregulated fares will continue        Passenger Focus earlier this year
     Anthony Smith, Passenger         following pressure from                   to soar above inflation as the         showed that Britain has some
Focus chief executive, said:          Passenger Focus, the                      average figures published today        of the most expensive fares in
                                                                                will mask steep rises on               Europe. As passengers pump
                                                                                individual routes. We call upon        over six billion pounds a year
   “As passengers pump over six billion pounds a year                           the industry to be clear about         into Britain's railways Passenger
   into Britain’s railways Passenger Focus is working to                        which fares are going up and           Focus is working to ensure
   ensure that fares do not soar wildly above inflation.”                       to publish average increases for       that fares do not soar wildly
                                                                                unregulated fares for each train       above inflation.

Counting down to buses                                                                                    concerns, both of which are different from
                                                                                                          rail, though the objectives are comparable.
                                                                                                                He commented: “The time allowed
                  assenger Focus is now only       David Sidebottom has been coordinating
            P     months away from officially
             being appointed as bus and
                                                   the work to gain a clear understanding of
                                                   the industry’s structure and passenger
                                                                                                          before taking up the role formally has been
                                                                                                          invaluable in building up our capability and
                                                                                                          capacity to become an effective champion
coach passenger champion in England,                                                                      at both the local level and in influencing
outside London. Legislation is expected                                                                   key national decisions.”
to extend Passenger Focus’s remit and                                                                          From April this year Passenger
officially make it bus and coach passenger                                                                Focus took over, from the Department
champion in April 2010.                                                                                   for Transport (DfT), the management and
     A range of research has now been                                                                     publication of the Mystery Bus Traveller
completed looking at passenger views                                                                      Survey covering the six Passenger
of bus services.                                                                                          Transport Executives as well as Bristol,
     The research aims to understand                                                                      Leicester and Nottingham.
passengers’ needs, concerns and                                                                                A stakeholder board has also been
expectations, including which factors                                                                     formed to provide strategic support
drive bus passenger satisfaction, where                                                                   and guidance for the research programme.
they want to see improvements and how                                                                     For further updates on Passenger
complaints are handled.                                                                                   Focus’s bus work, see the latest edition of
     Bus passenger project manager                                                                        Busfocus at

   2   What do
       passengers want
   from government
                                     3   Shaping a
                                         new franchise
                                     Research looking at what
                                                                           4   What passengers
                                                                               want from stations
                                                                           Passengers say there is room
                                                                                                             Also              inside this issue
                                                                                                             2 Getting to grips with antisocial behaviour
   Watchdog seeks views on its       passengers want on the                for improvement at small and      3 Passenger Focus welcomes Southern back
   Passenger Manifesto               East Coast                            medium-sized stations             4 First Great Western turns around performance
Passenger Voice Issue 10

                                                                                                                Anthony Smith

High-speed railway lines, passengers and fares
Passenger numbers continue to rise                While it is early days, it is worth giving    variability in the price that could be
and trains and rail lines are getting more   some thought to what sort of new railway           paid and therefore needs to be stored
crowded. The long-term solution is to        this might be. Passenger Focus is an               in advance. The current Virgin timetable
ensure there is a step-change in the         advocate of the ‘turn up and go’ railway.          has a train every 20 minutes, a timetable
space on the rail network to handle          Research and experience shows that this            more like bus services but all lashed to an
more trains, longer trains and more          is what many passengers do and want –              advance purchase airline booking system.
punctual trains.                             it also suits the size of country we live in.          Just imagine. Set prices for turn
     While the various plans for new         The new high-speed lines represent                 up and go travel. Say, a £21 single to
‘high-speed’ lines are welcome, some         a potential opportunity to think afresh            Birmingham in the Off-Peak, £66 in the
consideration must be given to where         about longer-distance ticketing. With              Peak. Yes, cheaper Advance purchase
the funding will come from. Passengers       fewer stops and gates at stations,                 tied to one train for those that want it.
using existing services will not be happy    smartcard ticketing could be a reality.            Simple, clear, understandable and no
if investment is diverted – ‘new money       What has bedevilled smartcards on                  quibbling over restrictions. It could be
for new lines’ must be the mantra.           longer-distance services is the huge               that simple. It could be different.

What do passengers want from government ?
Whichever party forms the next government, passengers will                                     Trust
want the same things from them. Drawing on our research                                        • the longer-distance fares system is
                                                                                               in disrepute and needs a fundamental
this is Passenger Focus’s draft ‘manifesto’ for passengers:                                    reform. Passengers don’t understand
                                                                                               or trust the system.
Investment                                   • high-speed trains? – yes please,                • invest in more staff, ticket windows,
• long-term infrastructure planning          if done to bring about a step-change              smart tickets and ticket machines.
and funding – Keep up the high level         in more trains, longer trains, more               Make it easy to use rail.
of rail investment set out in plans          reliable trains with high speed as                • require train companies to clearly put
for 2009-14 (more carriages in               a bonus                                           ticket restrictions on ticket machines,
particular please!)                          • review fares – the move towards a               websites and tickets. Passengers need
• plans for electrification bring            25% taxpayer, 75% fare payer split                to know what is on offer before they buy.
about long-term passenger benefits           cannot be sustained.                              • train companies to publish details of what
– keep these plans moving forward                                                              tickets they actually sold the year before -
• keep putting passengers’ priorities        Performance                                       build trust that cheap tickets do exist!
at the heart of the new franchises.          • don’t lose the focus on performance             • during engineering works only use bus
The new Southern franchise set a             – one in 10 trains still arrives late at          replacement services as a last resort
good precedent.                              the final destination, let alone at stations      • invest in more passenger information.
• concessionary bus fares have               en route                                          Passenger Focus’s research shows
to continue, pass-holders and non            • right-time railway, right now! Tightening       passengers cannot get enough of it.
pass-holders alike have welcomed             up on performance would also help with            • more visible staff! Key passenger
this scheme                                  capacity issues as well.                          requirement to help when things go
                                                                                               wrong and reassure passengers about
                                                                                               personal security.

This should give politicians from all parties a list to start working from!
What do you think? Have we missed anything?
Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive

                                                                                                   Autumn 2009 Issue 10

Shaping a new franchise                                                                        that passenger needs and priorities are at
                                                                                               the heart of any future franchise. In the last
                                                                                               two months we have surveyed over 6000
                                                                                               passengers on this route and have fed
Passengers want punctual and reliable               Guy Dangerfield, Passenger Focus           their views to the Government – we hope
trains, value for money and to be able          manager, said the return of the franchise      passengers’ concerns and aspirations
to get a seat on services run under the         to the Government brought an end to            are central to the next franchise.”
new East Coast franchise.                       the period of uncertainty. He commented:           Passenger Focus is also working with
     As National Express handed back            “Passengers were relieved that the             the Department for Transport to understand
the franchise to the Government,                transfer was smooth and will welcome           passengers’ views about various service
Passenger Focus completed research              assurances that the level and quality          quality issues to be addressed during the
asking what passengers want delivered           of service will not suffer.                    period when the Government has direct
by the future operator.                             “Looking forward, it is most important     responsibility for the East Coast franchise.

Passengers on political                                                    Passenger Focus
parties’ agenda                                                            welcomes Southern back
                                                                           Passenger Focus welcomes the continuity, new investment
September and October saw                Various panellists were           and improvements passengers will receive with the new
Passenger Focus host events        invited to take part in the             South Central franchise deal, being run by Southern Railways.
at the Liberal Democrat,           debate, with Chris Mole                     Passenger Focus is also delighted that the operator has
Labour and Conservative            MP, Norman Baker MP                     taken up its suggestion of improving the fares system and is
Party Conferences in               and Stephen Hammond MP                  proactively advertising at the station the cheapest walk-up
Bournemouth, Brighton and          providing insight into their            through-tickets to popular destinations. The poster was
Manchester respectively.           respective party’s opinions             devised in response to a recommendation in Passenger
Passenger Focus held               on the issue of government              Focus's fares and ticketing study.
fringe events at all three         involvement.
conferences, with the                    All three events were
question, ‘Do we need              well attended, and numerous
government more or less            passenger issues were
involved in rail and bus           discussed including high-speed
services?’, posed to keynote       rail, accessibility, local bus
speakers as well as those          services and Department
in the audience.                   for Transport funding.

Board meeting in Liverpool                                                     Pictured are Southern managing director Chris Burchell
The national passenger watchdog is taking its Board to Liverpool for           with Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive,
a meeting in public and a stakeholder event on 15 and 16 December.             and Lord Andrew Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport,
     The stakeholder event will take place at the ACC Liverpool                at the franchise launch in Eastbourne recently. The poster
Balcony and the board meeting is being held on the 16th at the                 was designed in response to a recommendation in
ACC Liverpool Hall 3A. For information about either function or                Passenger Focus’s Fares and Ticketing Study.
to see the meeting agenda, go to

Getting to grips with antisocial behaviour                                                     research that looks at passenger views.
                                                                                                    In addition, Passenger Focus and senior
Passenger Focus surveys show that              behaviour and assist passengers to              BTP officers are exploring ways to reflect
passengers worry about antisocial behaviour    feel more safe and secure, a better             passengers’ needs in policing plans. Through
on trains and at stations.                     understanding of what people view as            close collaboration, a good practice guide
    To help the rail industry and British      antisocial behaviour is needed. Passenger       is planned that will engage passengers at
Transport Police (BTP) tackle antisocial       Focus manager Julie Warburton is leading        a local level.

    Passenger Voice Issue 10

What passengers want from stations                                                                                              At the same time Passenger
                                                                                                                           Focus also launched its report
                                                                                                                           summarising its passenger
Passenger Focus has welcomed           at small stations with no access         time information should be                 research which considers
government funding and                 to information.                          standard, not a luxury.                    views and opinions on stations.
commitment to improve                       Anthony Smith, Passenger                  “Furthermore, passengers                  Passenger Focus has also
stations across the country.           Focus chief executive, said:             tell us that at larger stations there      found that passengers’ levels of
     Transport Secretary Andrew        “Passengers standing on                  needs to be available staff for            satisfaction with the station still
Adonis launched a new £50m fund        windswept platforms across Britain       advice and security. There should          vary greatly according to the size;
for improvements to 10 stations in     should be able to find out if their      also be passenger satisfaction             satisfaction is highest at the major
England following the release of       train is coming or not. There are all    targets for stations in the franchise      stations and lowest at those small,
a report which looked at the state     too many stations that do not have       deal that means train companies            unstaffed stations. Passenger
of facilities for passengers across    any real-time information and in the     have to tackle station cleanliness,        Focus will continue to ask
the country.                           21st century this is outrageous.         lighting, provision of seating,            passengers their views on stations
     The report highlighted that for   Today’s report highlights this issue,    removal of graffiti and maintenance        and feed this back to the industry
too long passengers have waited        and supports our position that real-     of lifts.”                                 in an effort to improve standards.

                                                                       Train company profile

    First Great Western turns around performance
    At the beginning of 2008 First Great Western (FGW) was in serious trouble. It was at the
    bottom of the railway performance league with only 79.1% of trains arriving on time
    In February 2008, a Remedial        highest scores for train               most train operating                      because of the scale of the
    Plan Notice was issued by           factors were for journey time          companies, punctuality and                improvement projects that
    the Secretary of State for          followed by punctuality and            reliability is by far the most            will affect its routes. By the
    Transport requiring FGW to          reliability. Some scores               important factor influencing              time the FGW franchise
    explain how it was going            improved dramatically: the             overall satisfaction. The next            expires in December 2015,
    to put its house in order.          percentage of passengers               most important factors were               work should be well underway
        Andrew Haines was               satisfied overall rose from 73         comfort of the seating, value             on electrification of lines from
    brought in as managing              to 81%, and the helpfulness            for money and sufficient room             London to Bristol, Swansea,
    director to save the franchise,     and attitude of staff on trains        for passengers to sit/stand.              Newbury and Oxford,
    and with his and Mark               from 56 to 66%.                        In terms of passenger                     installation of the European
    Hopwood’s efforts, the                   However, there continues          dissatisfaction, how well                 Rail Traffic Management
    remedial period ended in            to be room for improvement             the train company dealt                   System, the Reading
    July 2009.                          with passengers indicating             with delays is the factor                 Station Area Redevelopment
        Analysis of the figures in      more dissatisfaction with              that most influences the                  and CrossRail.
    Passenger Focus’s National          value for money, toilet                proportion of passengers                       Passenger Focus will be
    Passenger Survey (NPS)              facilities, space for luggage,         who are dissatisfied overall.             looking to FGW and Network
    shows performance appears           availability of staff and the               Looking to the future,               Rail to structure plans to
    to have turned around. In the       way delays are handled.                FGW faces major challenges                minimise the degree of
    Autumn 2007 NPS, passenger               Turning to station factors,       in maintaining the progress               disruption to passengers during
    satisfaction with train             car parking was the biggest            of the last 18 months                     these welcome enhancements.
    punctuality and performance         cause of dissatisfaction, with
    was at 65%. By Spring 2009          28% of passengers very or               Overall Satisfaction and Station Factors
    it had climbed to 80%, and          fairly dissatisfied, followed by
    only 8% of passengers were          station facilities and services.                                                              % satisfied/good
                                                                                                                                 Spring 2009 Spring 2008
    very or fairly dissatisfied         But FGW station staff won
    with FGW overall.                   plaudits from customers,                Overall satisfaction                                   81             73
        The Spring 2009 survey          with 85% of passengers                  The train toilet facilities                            45             36
                                                                                The helpfulness and attitude
    showed all scores had moved         very or fairly satisfied with the
                                                                                of staff on the train                                  66             56
    in the right direction since        way station staff responded
                                                                                The provision of information
    Spring 2008, and a measure          to a request.                           during the journey                                     64             54
    of FGW’s success is that the              As is the case with               Punctuality/reliability (i.e the train
                                                                                arriving/departing on time)                            80             67

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