Passengers have been waiting since 4 December for the Government to respond to the damning inquiry into the 2018 rail chaos. Now we demand that the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, commit to implementing the recommended rail chaos reforms without further delay.
The St Albans Commuter and Passenger Action Group, set up by local rail campaigner Daisy Cooper, submitted 80+ pages of evidence to a group of MPs (the Transport Select Committee) about the impact of the summer rail chaos on people's everyday lives.
On 4 December 2018, a group of MPs published their report into the rail chaos which St Albans commuters and passengers endured for months. This was as a result of a new timetable being introduced. That group of MPs concluded that "nobody took charge", that the decision-making structures were "not fit for purpose", and would "not have been used for any major project in any sector anywhere in the world" and that the Secretary of State was "at the apex of the structure".
They made a series of recommendations - but the responsible Minister is yet to respond. We demand that he does respond without further delay.
The recommendations of most relevance to St Albans commuters and passengers are as follows:
- Rail passengers caught up in the timetabling crisis do not deserve to face an increase in their fares in 2019. 2018 season ticket holders should receive a discount, equivalent to any increase announced this year, on renewed season tickets in 2019.
- The rail industry, Department for Transport and the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) must:
a) Ensure effective policies are in place—and are enforced—to assist disabled passengers when things go wrong on the railway;
b) Set a measurable target for implementation of “simple, one-click automated” compensation schemes, including, through franchise renegotiations if necessary, piloting such schemes on parts of the network worst affected by the timetabling crisis by the end of 2019; and
c) Ensure sufficient time in future timetabling processes for ongoing and meaningful public consultation, and commit to work with rail users to assess and mitigate adverse local effects of the May 2018 timetable change.
- Accountability for future timetable changes: in the short term, we are content for the Chief Executive of Network Rail to take charge, but the Secretary of State must make clear the extent of Mr Haines’ decision-making power over whether and when the next timetable change goes ahead. Long-term the process requires genuinely independent oversight, this role would need to be located outside of Network Rail, so that it is more effectively insulated from commercial and political pressures.
- It has been the policy of successive governments that passengers not taxpayers should increasingly bear the cost of financing the railway. With passengers facing an annual regulated fare increase of up to 3.2% in January 2019, a key focus for Mr Williams’ review must be establishing a much clearer link between the quality and reliability of train services and the fares passengers pay (chapter 5).
- The Government must now set a measurable target for implementation of “one click” automated compensation schemes on commuter rail routes. These schemes must be written into contracts as they are re-let. Those who suffered most in the timetabling crisis should also benefit from automated compensation schemes as soon as possible.
- The Regulator must prove its effectiveness in this policy area [disabled people], including by acting swiftly to implement the outcome of its Disabled People's Protection Policy (DPPP) consultation and stepping up its enforcement activity, including using its powers to levy fines on train operating companies.