In 2016 the consumer group Which? conducted a survey of passenger satisfaction over the preceding 12 months. It found that many rail commuters were "getting a raw deal from their train operator".
There was better news from Transport Focus's biannual National Rail Passenger Survey, which measures passengers' satisfaction with their most recent journey. Overall satisfaction levels have increased slightly by this measure, but results vary widely between passengers of different train operating companies and between London, regional and long-distance services.
Transport Focus has produced a wealth of information on what passengers most want from their rail services. This includes punctual, reliable and clean trains and accurate and timely information during delays. Availability of free Wi-Fi, and other on-board facilities, is also seen as important.
The Department for Transport and train companies have recognised the benefits of "smart-ticketing" and fairer ticket options for commuters who work part-time.
However, progress towards consistently delivering some of these priorities for passengers has been slow.
Terms of reference
The Committee's inquiry looks to identify recommendations to improve the main aspects of a rail journey from the perspective of the passenger: from planning a journey, arriving at a station, making the journey, and any necessary post-journey information.
However, the process for claiming compensation for a delay/cancellation has recently been examined by the Office for Rail and Road in response to a "super-complaint" by Which?. The Committee will follow up the ORR's recommendations separately.
The Committee invites written evidence on, and recommendations to improve:
- Information provided to passengers before, during and after rail journeys, including information provided at stations, in trains and via National Rail Enquiries, operators' websites and online apps (excluding in relation to the process for claiming compensation for a delay/cancellation)
- Ticketing, including overcoming obstacles to the more widespread delivery of "smart-ticketing" and part-time season tickets
- In-train facilities, including on-journey Wi-Fi and power
- Performance measures in relation to passenger experience, including passenger survey methodologies
- Mechanisms to hold operators to account for poor performance and spread the best practice across the industry
The Committee would be grateful to receive written submissions by Wednesday 25 May 2016.
The "future of rail" series of inquiries
The Transport Committee launched the first inquiry in the "future of rail" series, into rail technology, in February 2016. Oral evidence on rail technology is likely to begin in May.
Further "future of rail" inquires will consider rail safety, governance and financing, and franchising. A call for evidence for the rail franchising inquiry will be published shortly.
The Committee is keen to receive submissions addressing the terms of reference of each of its rail inquiries from the range of rail industry stakeholders, including individual members of the public. However, please note that its remit precludes it from taking up individual cases. If you wish to complain about a poor experience when travelling by train you should first contact the relevant train company. If you are dissatisfied with the train company's response, you should contact either Transport Focus or London Travel Watch, as appropriate.