Passenger Focus Annual Report

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DaveNewcastle

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Passenger Focus, the arms-length watchdog for travel by bus and rail in the UK, was published on 10th July. It can be viewed here.

While the second half of the document is effectively a set of Accounts and statement of the body's governance, the first half contains some interesting analysis. This extract is from the first page of the Chairman's Introduction, and appears to echo many sentiments posted regularly on this forum:
Unfair treatment?

The most worrying issue we have detected recently relates to the much-increased and overhasty use of Unpaid Fares Notices and the threat of prosecution for passengers who cannot produce a ‘valid’ ticket. Ticketless travel is an important issue. Passengers who avoid paying are being subsidised by the rest of us. Passenger Focus has never had a problem with the industry pursuing those who deliberately set out to avoid payment; but in doing so they must make sure they avoid scooping up those who make a genuine mistake.

This is worrying, as rail staff do not have to prove intent to defraud. If a passenger did not set out to defraud the railway, they could and should be given a chance – for example if a railcard is left at home, which invalidates the ticket they have with them but can later be produced, surely no offence has been committed. While this is probably not a widespread problem, it is causing real difficulties for some passengers and creating unnecessary conflict on the front line. We have set out our concerns to the train companies and secured an undertaking that discretion will be more consistently used in future. Over the next few months, and during the Olympic period in particular when many new and overseas passengers will be using rail, we will be monitoring implementation. If we think the industry is still being overzealous, we will refer the matter to the Office of Rail Regulation.

In the analysis of appeals opened by Railway Operator, the highest ranking was East Coast with 774 Appeals, well over twice the number for the next highest Operator, Virgin Trains. It may be significant that the three higest scoring operators in this analysis were EC, VT and FGW - all high frequency long distance operators offering Advance Fares well below the price of walk-up fares. [Pages 13-14]

My concern is in understanding how this report, with which I substantially agree, might be adopted by the industry so that change is brought about.
 
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PaxVobiscum

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Not being entirely clear myself on what is meant in this context by "Appeals", I hope it may be of assistance to some others if I quote the explanation from page 13 of the report:

Empowering passengers with information, advice and advocacy

Provide an effective appeals service to passengers and promote good practice in complaints handling


A total of 14,687 passengers contacted Passenger Focus in 2011-12. Our passenger team negotiates with rail companies when a passenger is unhappy with the way a company has responded to their complaint. We call these ‘appeal complaints’’ and we received 3,069 in 2011-12. Despite an overall decrease in the number of complaints made to the rail industry by passengers in recent years, Passengerr (sic) Focus has seen an increase of 31.5% in the number of rail appeals we have received this year.

East Coast do seem to have a lot of work to do here.
 
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