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1997-10-23 ORR-002
Office of the Rail Regulator

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Rail Regulator announces further fines for train operators as calls go unanswered


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National Rail Enquiries Service
NRES
NRE
Office of the Rail Regulator
ORR



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Office of the Rail Regulator

Rail Regulator announces further fines for train operators as calls go unanswered
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related documents


1997-09-16 Train operators fined for leaving too many telephone enquiries unanswered (Office of the Rail Regulator)

1997-08-15 Rail Regulator confirms enforcement action against National Rail Enquiry Service (Office of the Rail Regulator)

1997-07-10 Regulator moves towards enforcement action over National Rail Enquiry Service (Office of the Rail Regulator)

1997-06-24 Regulator demands improvements to National Rail Enquiry Service (Office of the Rail Regulator)

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date
23 October 1997
source Office of the Rail Regulator
type Press release

note ORR/97/29


The Rail Regulator, John Swift QC, today announced fines totalling 100,000 against train operators who failed for the second consecutive month to meet the target of answering calls made to the National Rail Enquiry Service. The 25 passenger train operating companies, who each have one month to pay their share of the fine, will continue to be liable to pay fines until the Regulator is satisfied they are sustaining a consistent standard of at least 90% of calls answered.

Mr Swift said "It is extremely disappointing to have to fine the train operators again. I am in no doubt that the two accidents at Southall and Witham increased the pressure on the service. However, I have allowed for that by disregarding the excess volume of calls on the days the accidents occurred.

"The operators must recognise that it is on occasions of disruption that this service is most needed. It is essential to have proper contingency plans in place to make sure such disruptions are handled better in the future.

"Thus, the service could have tried harder to lift the performance target in those weeks that were not affected by aiming to answer more calls first time. It will continue to run the risk of non-compliance until it raises its standard above the minimum target level."

Mr Swift said, "When I issued a final order on 14 August it was in the hope that this would give operators the incentive to reach performance targets and provide passengers with the minimum service they have a right to expect. It appears to have worked to some extent, with the month on month performance up from 82% to 85% and now, after adjustment, 88%, but standards must be raised in the interests of both operators and passengers.

Mr Swift reiterated that answering at least 90% of calls answered was not the end of the story for the National Rail Enquiry Service. "The 90% target is a minimum only, and it is in the industry's own interest to maximise the number of calls answered and to cater for variations in demand. Moreover, we will be looking to them next to achieve their secondary target - that 95% of all calls answered should be answered within 30 seconds. We will also be looking to improve the quality of information provided to passengers. I have already made clear that if progress is not made quickly I am ready to consider imposing additional obligations and sanctions."



Notes to Editors

1. On 24 June (Press Notice ORR/97/14) the Regulator began to monitor performance weekly and warned that performance would have to improve dramatically if operators were to avoid enforcement action. On 11 July (Press Notice ORR/97/17) he published a proposed enforcement order, giving the statutory 28 days for representations to be made. This notice period expired on 8 August and on 14 August he issued a final order under section 55 of the Railways Act 1993 (Press Notice ORR/97/20). On 16 September (Press Notice ORR/97/22) the Regulator announced fines totalling 250,000 for the period 17 August to 14 September. The current fines are for the period from 15 September to 12 October. The next period runs from 13 October until 9 November.

2. The sliding scale for fines announced in July ensured that very poor performance would be more heavily penalised than performance which just missed the target:

For each percentage point (or part thereof) of calls not answered between 85% and below 90%, the penalty would be 50,000.
For each percentage point (or part thereof) of calls not answered between 75% and below 85%, the penalty would be 100,000.
For each percentage point (or part thereof) of calls not answered below 75%, the penalty would be 200,000.
3. The individual operator's share of the fine will be in the same proportion as their contribution to the costs of the National Rail Enquiry Service.

4. Performance figures since April have been: April 51%; May 65%; June 55%; July 71%; August 82%; September 85%: October 88%.


Railhub Archive ::: 1997-10-23 ORR-002





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