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How should the regulator ensure that rail operators give customers the best experience possible when they make a complaint, or when they use assistance to travel?

mabrams's picture
17.07.2014 | mabrams | Fair fares now

The Office of Rail Regulation (the ORR) today explained that it's inviting suggestions on what data it should gather from rail operating companies in order to monitor their Complaints Handling Procedures (CHPs) and their Disabled People's Protection Policies (DPPPs). These are important activities for train operating companies to get right.

ORR proposes establishing a 'core data set' which will be published, enabling the rest of us to see how each company is doing, although without measuring them against a minimum target. They say: "ORR wants to see consistently high standards of passenger care and a culture of continuous improvement. As part of this process ORR is also inviting views on the best ways to measure success and quality of passenger experience when making a complaint or using assistance from operators. This will help the regulator to ensure train companies have the right systems in place to provide the right assistance to every passenger."

Responsibility for approving, monitoring and identifying success in the various operators’ handling of complaints and support of passengers needing assistance was given to ORR in late 2013, and since then they’ve been exploring how this could be done better. Having talked to key stakeholders in rail travel, they have now published two Regulatory Statements about the new approach they intend to take, including requiring operators to be clearer and more specific in their policies on supporting disabled people, especially when communicating these to the public.

The Regulatory Statements and the consultation invitation are here: http://orr.gov.uk/consultations/policy-consultations/open-consultations/developing-minimum-core-data-for-monitoring-operators-chp-and-dppp-performance and although the Consultation Letter looks long, there are 5 quite clear questions set out near the start, which we hope anyone with an interest in rail passengers’ experience will consider. As the Office themselves admit, gathering large and consistent amounts of data from each different rail operator is going to be a ‘challenge’ – so let’s make sure they’re looking for the right information in the first place.

The deadline for submissions, which should be emailed to the Office of Rail Regulation, is August 29th.

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