Seven train firms not using system to notify passengers of cancellations

Seven train firms not using system to notify passengers of cancellations

A departure board at the train station

Seven train operators are not using a system that has been available for eight months to automatically notify passengers when services are canceled or changed, a regulator said.

In the event of service changes, an e-mail or SMS will be sent to online ticket buyers up to 48 hours before departure.

It’s available to rail operators, independent retailers and travel management companies, but not all companies have signed up, although ride reliability has dropped to an all-time low.

The rail regulator Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said the operators not using the automatic notification tool developed last year are: Hull Trains, London Northwestern Railway, ScotRail, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, Transport for Wales and West Midlands Railway.

It wrote to the companies that “passengers reasonably expect train operators to proactively keep them informed” and that they are expected to start using the system at the end of March.

Sixteen operators use the system.

For changes made within 48 hours of travel, the regulator has asked operators to make it easy for passengers to opt-in to automatic notifications.

Stephanie Tobyn, Director of Strategy, Policy and Reform, ORR, said: “Notifying people in a timely manner of a change to their travel booking is an important first step in improving passenger information and it is disappointing that not all passengers benefit from a system , which benefits from it, has been in force since May 2022.

“Train companies must comply with the passenger information license condition, which requires passengers to be able to plan their journey with a reasonable level of security.

“So there shouldn’t be any further delay as companies roll out this system now.”

A spokesman for industry association Rail Delivery Group said: “As the Office of Rail and Road makes clear, many passengers are now benefiting from the new system to automatically keep passengers updated on their booking.

“The RUs that are still to implement it are committed to this.

“Regular and timely information to help passengers plan their journey is an important part of their overall experience.”

ORR figures show the equivalent of one in 13 services across the UK has been canceled in the four weeks to January 7 due to strikes, staff shortages and severe weather.

This represents the worst reliability in records going back to April 2014.

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