The UK regulatory body, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), has written to the country’s rail operators asking for a review of the content of automatic digital notifications sent when trains are changed or cancelled.
The organisation said that while it was pleased that the vast majority of operators had acted on a previous request to implement an automatic system to inform customers of changes more than 48 hours before travel, it had found that many of the notifications lacked “information and clarity”.
Stephanie Tobyn, director of strategy, policy and reform, said: “While 1.8 million notifications have already been sent this year, it is important that the notifications are easy to understand and provide useful information to passengers, including setting out their rights and options clearly.
“There is also a need for operators to look into offering more ticket flexibility for affected passengers, no matter what sort of ticket they have.”
Tobyn added that the ORR would be monitoring how the industry reacted to its concerns, saying that passengers who book in advance should be treated fairly instead of simply being offered a refund when timetables are changed.
Conversations will also be taking place with independent retailers, who are responsible for alerting passengers who purchase tickets through their websites and apps.
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The ORR said that notifications, sent via email or text, should provide clearly explained and useful information to passengers, including their rights and options when their travel is affected by changes or cancellations.
The call for more to be done to protect passenger rights amid issues with rail travel comes amid a tumultuous period for the UK’s rail industry, which has been affected by multiple strikes and seen at least one operator brought under state control in response to frequent delays and cancellations.