ORR Review of withdrawal of Hitachi Trains

The investigation and review from the Office of Rail & Road into the impact on passangers in relation to the withdrawal of all Class 80x Hitachi trains and how this crisis was handled by a number of train operators including Great Western Railway, Express & Hull Trains, LNER & TransPennine has just been revealed.

The ORR investigated how ticketing and refunds were supported by operators and any third party retailers whilst also identifying what lessons could be learned from the crisis.  The ORR indeed accepted that the crisis rapidly developed but did reflect ‘in these circumstances, it is important that passengers are given the best information available about train services, and where they are advised not to travel or are unable to do so, they can access the correct information about their rights to a refund from the ticket retailer.’

In the past Operators have used a ‘problem which is currently under investigation’ as a cause for main disruptions and they were not clear about the evolving impact on passenger journeys.  Indeed many trains were cancelled on the morning of 8th May but Operators did not make it clear to passengers whether or not they could travel that afternoon.  Operators instead decided to message passengers not to travel, yet not all trains were cancelled.  This conflicting message presented a confusing picture to passengers who were left unable to understand which trains were cancelled or which were running.

The ORR did agree that the information for passengers was certainly not perfect at the start of the crisis, however, with some minor exceptions, it did improve. The regulator noted that across different websites there were numerous discrepancies and inconsistent information. It called for a consistent use of red banners by operators and National Rail Enquiries and also suggested that third party retailers should add a disruption banner to the websites main home page with a link on how to obtain a refund for passengers. Also any changes to on-board services also need to be made clear to passengers and information about refunds alongside accurate administration fees