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Author Topic: A rail ombudsman - suggested role manifesto  (Read 1332 times)
grahame
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« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2017, 06:47:16 AM »

I'm not sure I should have started looking at this point by point, but I am interested in practical ideas to improve things for passengers, and at the same time aware of going too far and creating side effects.   As I am not a politician / have no role in setting up and proposing for the future, this will appear somewhat negative - showing concerns but not suggesting too many alternatives.  But, please, others could do that.

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1. All deliberations will be conducted under strict liability rules, as now with penalty fares, but with the strict liability reversed so the DfT and TOCs will have to prove that they are not at fault, with the passengers’ complaint upheld otherwise

So that's "innocent until proven guilty" rather than "guilty until proven innocent"?   That's exactly how it should be, but it potentially sets up a rogues charter.  The current system, though, generates some horrific stories.  Of a friend of ours bring told to leave first class and being threated with the BTP if he didn't ... oh, he had a valid first class ticket - just he's young, very short haired and the train manager assumed he ony had a standard ticket. But then an assumption that the passnger who heads straight for the loo on boarding, only coming out as the destination is reached, may be fair on the balance of probability.  But "innocent until proven guilty" will make it much harder to get such people to pay for their journey - putting the price up for the rest of us.

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2. All upheld complaints will be compensated with a straight refund of the fare and a penalty of £50 to be paid to the complainant

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3. All fares quoted by TOCs must be the lowest fare for that journey under the circumstances specified by the passenger, including any fares which would be lower if bought in separate segments.

Agreed. Yes, I know the system is hard and complex to work out for a ticket clerk - but various fare splitting sites hava managed to do it, so it should be possible to build it into national rail ticketing too.   

Where people don't know exactly when they'll be returning, it should be ensured that they know of their right to buy for the cheaper return time, and to excess their ticket if (in the end) they want to come back on a peak train.

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4. All ticket machines must offer the lowest possible fare too

I'm going to suggest you go further and suggest that the cheapest fare valid on the next train should be offered within the first set of fares for that journey, and not down on "see more fares" pages as often happens at present.

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5. All disabled passengers must have the right to turn up and travel, and be assisted so that they do not suffer discrimination because of their disability

In principle yes ... but I worry about places like Avoncliff, where the practicallity of providing anything except steps is questionable, and I worry about users who need larger mobility vehicles that are difficult or impossible to load at times. The key is in definition, and if "alternative" means road transport called up from a communication device, fair enough.

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6. All penalty fares appeals rejected by the scam IPFAS to be reviewed by a properly independent body, not one that calls itself independent and is in fact a machine for making money for the execs of Govia

Wording shows anger.  Penalty fare appeals may go to the Ombudsman

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7. All timetables to be re-assessed to ensure that they haven’t been padded to allow the TOC to make up time. And lateness to be determined not only at the final station but at intermediate stations

No - sorry.  I would rather have padding time within my journey to allow little catch up opportunities so that my connection doesn't miss along the way.  And biasing those extra minutes towards the latter part of the journey helps to ensure that time can be made up from any delays, rather than having to hang around halfway to await time, just to get delayed later in the journey.

But agreed that lateness shouldn't only be measured at final station

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8. All repayments for lateness and cancellations to be made within 7 days of the request and a penalty of £50 to be levied if not

None-disputed within 10 working days; disputed ones 56 days, with reason for dispute to be given.

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9. All employees of TOCs, which are corporations operating in the public sector very much like the BBC, and of the DfT, and all their contractors, with salaries or remuneration over £150k pa, to be named and the total remuneration of each declared – and the gender of each specified

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10. The maximum number of passengers allowed on a train or in a carriage to be declared and this to be monitored so it is not exceeded, and if anyone has to travel in an over-crowded train where it hasn't been monitored to be compensated as in para 2

So not really a "maximum allowed" then - which would mean turfing the excess off or denying boarding. Get help from United airline to drag people off because staff need to travel to work next service ;-)

Nice idea to discourage TOCs from running two rammed carriages where three should be provided.  BUT concerns are the cost of providing an extra carriage for the one short leg that the train's busy, the ability of the TOC to forecast unusual flows, and that as written it looks like full refund for whole journey plus £50 for a short overcrowd.  If that were impemented, it would put an end to practices such as the London - Bristol express stopping at Oldfield Park if the train from Weymouth was short formed and a big crowd was waiting, because everyone on the train from London would be refunded!

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11. Once signed all contracts between TOCs and the DfT to be published in full, with the schedules and any extra elements, including the commercial terms which should be in the public arena, and details of the termination penalties

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12. All meetings between the TOCs, Rail Delivery Group, Unions and the DfT to be fully minuted and the minutes published within 7 days of the meeting

Please no, if that's saying what I think it is.  So much is learned and good done by chatting across roles, and if every such chat was subject to a formal procedure nothing would get done because everything would be tied up in red tape.

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13. All relevant statistics, about, for example, lateness, penalty fares, penalty fares appeals, compensation to passengers, lateness in paying will be published monthly

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14. All complaints about the rail service to be published on the ombudsman’s website and details of the adjudications also published, with statistics in an easily accessible form

Suitably anonymised?



OK - some of that is Devil's Advocate mode.  ... comments and further thoughts welcome by me ( PaulJDavies may wonder what he has bitten off with us!)
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ChrisB
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« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2017, 08:57:33 AM »

Then don't complain about those who were willing to serve on it to try & make (and we did) for a better customer experience. Others were willing & we managed to achieve change
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Fourbee
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« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2017, 09:24:54 AM »

In my opinion, there are elements of the manifesto which are rather more draconian than I would realistically expect in a final system, and I wondered if they've been driven by an anger that's built up within the Southern area, or as negotiating positions where a compromise in the middle is what's really wanted.   Some of the elements may be rather like putting up an electric fence - very effective but scarcely used as common business practice modifies to avoid the problems - almost like engineering the railway system to become more used friendly via the thread of the Ombusman.

I have made quite a lot of complaints to the FOS on behalf of others, some successful, some unsuccessful. It is noticiable though over the years how firms subject to FOS complaints have improved by making a real effort to get things right first time and quicker (usually this involves a phone call within a few days of them receiving the initial communication). AIUI there is a fee payable of £500 for every case which reaches the FOS; there is a finanical incentive to avoid this step from happening. There is no deterrent for TOCs as it stands, so inevitably, we have the current unsatisfactory situation.

Ultimately, if I made a complaint to a TOC today, they could put it in the special filing cabinet (the bin) and no tangible sanctions would follow (unless I elected to go to court/did a chargeback).
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grahame
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« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2017, 09:34:21 PM »

https://conversation.which.co.uk/travel-leisure/orr-complaints-trains-delays-ombudsman/

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Complaints about rail services have risen once again, according to latest data from the rail regulator. Punctuality and reliability of services were the most common complaint made by passengers. So how can we get trains on track?

The Office of Rail and Road has revealed that the number of complaints being made by passengers on our railways rose by 7.5% in the year 2016-17, with over half a million complaints in total.

In truth, this doesn’t come as a surprise to many of us here at Which?, especially after thousands of supporters of our rail campaign shared with us their experiences of using trains in the UK. Their stories highlighted the multiple basic failings that passengers are having to put up with every day…
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NickB
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« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2017, 09:58:31 AM »

Power to declare Void Days would be an important step forward for me - stripping this inconsistent decision from the TOCs.
 
Also, I've always felt that neither the season ticket discount process for delays, nor delay repay is a perfect system.  I would like to see the floor (5%/10%) for season ticket compensation removed, and it be directly linked to the performance figures.  If the TOC provides 97% of trains on time then the discount is 3%.  If however it falls to 82% then the discount is 18%.
Currently there is no incentive to improve services once a trigger has been crossed - it wouldn't surprise me if GWR 'planned' for all of their renewals to be discounted by 5% every year!  The compensation should be available as cash rather than a discount on renewal if you have become so sick of train travel that you are switching to driving/staying at home.
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t0m
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« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2017, 09:46:37 PM »

Power to declare Void Days would be an important step forward for me - stripping this inconsistent decision from the TOCs.
 
Also, I've always felt that neither the season ticket discount process for delays, nor delay repay is a perfect system.  I would like to see the floor (5%/10%) for season ticket compensation removed, and it be directly linked to the performance figures.  If the TOC provides 97% of trains on time then the discount is 3%.  If however it falls to 82% then the discount is 18%.
Currently there is no incentive to improve services once a trigger has been crossed - it wouldn't surprise me if GWR 'planned' for all of their renewals to be discounted by 5% every year!  The compensation should be available as cash rather than a discount on renewal if you have become so sick of train travel that you are switching to driving/staying at home.

Here here on all of these points. I can see no reason why there should be so much national inconsistency with operators free to choose these arrangements by themselves..
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grahame
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« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2017, 07:04:13 AM »

Better very late than never - closes TODAY ...

http://orr.gov.uk/rail/consultations/open-consultations/changes-to-complaints-handling-guidance

Not sure how we missed that one earlier - or perhaps we were supposed to miss it?

Background / comment

http://www.thecomplainingcow.co.uk/rail-ombudsman-is-finally-coming-down-the-tracks-consultation-closing-soon/
« Last Edit: November 07, 2017, 07:09:51 AM by grahame » Logged

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