ORR’s consumer team undertake a range of work to improve the passenger experience in areas such as compensation, retailing of train tickets and passenger accessibility. An important part of this work is understanding the customer experience and the types of outcomes they receive when using the rail network, and both of the projects align strongly with this.
Speaking about the new partnerships, Elliot Simmonds, Client Solutions Director said:
“These studies for the ORR are another important example of our commitment to our mission to make a positive difference, using our team’s passion and skills in listening to and understanding people, to provide actionable insight, that helps our clients and their partners deliver better public services.
Understanding the customer experience, particularly for services such as Passenger Assist , and where things have gone wrong as is the case with complaints handling, is vitally important and I’m delighted that the Office of Rail and Road have put their faith in our team. We continually seek to offer the best value to our clients, as well as challenging them on where research could work harder, and it was particularly rewarding to receive that feedback from the ORR team.”
The two projects include Complaints Handling research as well as research to understand the experience of those passengers using Passenger Assist, a service provided free of charge at rail stations across the country to support with a range of tasks (e.g. alighting the train, carrying luggage, etc).
ORR have been working with train operating companies (TOCs) since 2016 to conduct an ongoing, large-scale complaint handling satisfaction survey with rail passengers. This research is vital in enabling ORR to track train operating companies’ compliance with complaint handling regulatory requirements over time. The survey data also helps train operating companies to continually benchmark their performance against other companies which fosters a positive culture of continuous improvement in complaint handling across the industry.
Passenger Assist is a free service offered by rail companies providing passengers with disabilities, or anyone else who may require help, with assistance to enable them to make their journey. Rail companies’ participation in Passenger Assist is mandated through their regulatory requirement to have an Accessible Travel Policy (ATP)1 approved by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). The intent of Passenger Assist is to make rail travel accessible to everyone.
Passengers can request assistance by booking it in advance of their journey. Train and station operators can require bookings to be made at least 2 hours prior to travel. Passenger Assist is open to anyone who needs assistance; this could be due to a disability or long-term health condition, a temporary health issue or old age, and no proof is required to demonstrate eligibility to use the service.
Assistance can take various forms – from being assisted into the station and help getting on and off the train (e.g. via ramps), to help with luggage, finding the relevant seat and or with moving around stations. The responsibility for the assistance at each station is with the designated operator of each station, known as the Station Facility Operator (SFO).
The overall aim of the passenger assist survey is to compile information about passenger use and experience of the Passenger Assist service offered by train and station operators, in order to monitor those operators' performance over time and ensure that users’ needs and expectations are being met on an ongoing basis.
If you would like to know more about the research please contact Elliot directly, via Elliot.Simmonds@melresearch.co.uk