The Guardian view on Britain’s railways: a system where nobody listens | Editorial

The Guardian view on Britain’s railways: a system where nobody listens | Editorial
Delays and cancellations continue to plague commuter services. Now the prices are being hiked again. There is a human solution to this mess

If there is one thing worse for Britain’s rail commuters than the deteriorating service on too many networks, it is the amount that they have to pay for it. Users of some of the worst performers, like Northern, Southern and Govia Thameslink, have already endured multiple timetable changes this year, without sustained improvements in reliability. Cancellations and delays remain all too common. Now, adding insult to injury, passengers have been warned to expect inflation- and wage-busting increases in fares from next January. If the RPI index for July comes in at around 3.5% this week, many of Britain’s commuters will again be paying premium prices for a third-class service.

Yet, if there is one thing even more unpopular than the service and the price, it may be the compensation system. It isn’t merely the fact the compensation is complex and impersonal that is the problem, though that is true. It is also that the different companies operate different claims systems. Consumers face a methodological maze. Not surprisingly, most of them give it up as a bad job. Which? reckoned this week that only one in three passengers who are entitled to a refund actually apply. That ought to be a wake-up call for government and regulators. The only thing that some of the rail companies appear to be truly efficient at doing is preventing users of the service from getting the repayments to which they are entitled.

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Source: Guardian Transport

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