New rules could mean huge fines for poorly run services

Thursday 24th September 2015

If train companies deliver poor services through overcrowded and dirty trains, broken information boards or if staff are rude to customers, they will face hefty fines, as high as £9million a year, under the new rules which will be introduced over time.

A study by Transport Focus concluded that one in five train users were dissatisfied with their journey. In particular passengers were not happy with the number of available seats, the procedure for dealing with delays, staff availability and the condition of facilities including toilets.

The new rules which emerged in the tender document for the new East Anglia rail franchise, are intended to ensure a high-quality experience for passengers, at a time when the number of rail users is increasing. It is likely that the threat of a hefty financial penalty will encourage the train companies to meet their customer service targets and expectations of rail travellers. The Department for Transport will use surveys and ‘mystery shoppers’ to discover what service is really like and to ensure that the companies are complying with the new rules.

Bryony Russell, Graduate Legal Executive at Gordons, says “With the threat of serious financial penalties hanging over rail companies, it is hoped that the service passengers receive will improve and ultimately encourage even more people to travel by train”.