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1998-11-12 ORR-001
Office of the Rail Regulator

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Regulator warns railways over Christmas and New Year Travel


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Office of the Rail Regulator
ORR
T-12



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Office of the Rail Regulator

Regulator warns railways over Christmas and New Year Travel
_______________________________________________________________


date
12 November 1998
source Office of the Rail Regulator
type Press release

note ORR/98/34


The Rail Regulator, John Swift QC, has today written to the managing directors of Railtrack and all twenty-five train operating companies demanding a report within two weeks on the state of readiness of the Christmas and New Year booking arrangements.

John Swift said: "In June 1997 I reminded train operators of the commitment to provide passengers with train times twelve weeks before each day of travel (T-12) and asked them to complete preparations for its implementation. Full national coverage was supposed to be in place from May 1998.

"During the Summer timetable period it appeared that the industry was reasonably close to achieving full compliance with T-12. This position has now been compromised with a poor outcome of T-12 within the Winter timetable and a particular failure for many TOCs to deliver T-12 for the important Christmas period.

"The position has now been reached where customers on many important routes cannot plan or book their travel arrangements over Christmas. This should be unacceptable to you in terms of potential revenue loss and the negative impact on your customers. It is unacceptable to me both because passengers are not receiving the service they are entitled to expect and because it may discourage them from using the railway altogether."
Following the reports that he receives from the train operators and from Railtrack, the Regulator will then consider whether further regulatory action is necessary.

Notes to editors:
1. The main national train timetable is published twice a year. Changes to the main timetable often have to be made at weekends and bank-holidays to allow necessary maintenance and improvement work to be carried out. Trains have to be retimed or re-routed around this work, or other special arrangements made. This retiming represents a significant workload for the industry, especially at times when major engineering works are taking place, such as the forthcoming Christmas period. The industry commitment means that information about retimed trains should be available twelve weeks in advance.
2. The processes for achieving the twelve week commitment (known as ‘Informed Traveller’) are contained in the multilateral contractual arrangements known as the Railtrack Track Access Conditions. Changes to the Track Access Conditions and associated industry processes should have meant that the twelve week commitment achieved national coverage from May 1998. Generally, this was achieved during the summer, but increasing engineering work during the autumn and winter has resulted in an escalation of problems.
3. The Regulator has been monitoring the situation, including action being taken by Railtrack and the Association of Train Operating Companies to sort the problems out. However, the situation appears to be deteriorating rather than improving, and as a result the Regulator has decided to act now.
4. The text of the letters follows.
DELIVERY OF INFORMED TRAVELLER

TEXT OF LETTER TO GERALD CORBETT, CHIEF EXECTUTIVE OF RAILTRACK:

12 November 1998

DELIVERY OF INFORMED TRAVELLER
1. At yesterday's regular meeting, we raised concerns relating to current problems within the industry relating to delivery of the Informed Traveller principle of making timetable information available twelve weeks before any day of operation (T-12). This letter seeks a report from you on the current position on the delivery of T-12, and the actions you are putting in place to ensure delivery in the future. I am aware that Railtrack will be briefing representatives of ORR on this issue on 4 December. However, concerns raised recently with me by members of the public and by train operators mean that I cannot wait until then for a full analysis of the issues from Railtrack's perspective.
2. Railtrack has a vital role to play in this, through its overall management of the industry processes and systems, its coordination through the Zones, and through the early identification of potential problems (such as major engineering blockages). Therefore, whilst T-12 is an industry commitment, I am looking to Railtrack to implement systems and processes which will ensure its delivery, and to identify problems and promote solutions. I cannot accept a situation where industry parties seem to be blaming each other, rather than solving the problems.
3. During the Summer timetable period it appeared that the industry was reasonably close to achieving full compliance with T-12. This position has now been compromised with a poor outcome of T-12 within the Winter timetable and a particular failure for many TOCs to deliver T-12 for the important Christmas period. The position has now been reached where customers on many important routes cannot plan or book their travel arrangements over Christmas. This is unacceptable to me both because passengers are not receiving the service they are entitled to expect and because it may discourage them from using the railway altogether.
4. I am committed to ensuring that the public has access to good and timely information about train times, and fully support the principles of Informed Traveller. The current delivery problems appear to be having a significant adverse effect on passengers, and the consequences of those problems may have continuing adverse effects on the timetable planning process. I am therefore now seeking a report from each train operator, and from Railtrack, on the extent of the current problems, the way in which they are being handled and the actions being put in place to mitigate immediate adverse effects on passengers and to avoid similar problems occurring in the future.
5. I would like your report to cover the following issues:
(a) Which of your Zones are regularly achieving the Informed Traveller target of making timetable information available twelve weeks in advance?
(b) Which Zones achieved the Informed Traveller target for services running over the Christmas period. Where Zones did not meet this target, how early was information made available in each Zone and for what percentage of train services?
(c) To the extent that Zones have not met the Informed Traveller target, what are the reasons for this? Please identify separately in your response general issues and issues specific to the Christmas period.
(d) Have you identified any specific deficiencies in the delivery processes and/or their enforcement?
(e) Have you identified any problems relating to Zonal coordination and, if so, what solutions have you identified?
(f) Have you sought to use the dispute mechanisms in the Track Access Conditions to attempt to resolve problems? If not please give your reasons.
(g) What resources have you committed to the delivery of T-12 within each Zone?
(h) To the extent that you have been unable to deliver T-12 to date, what specific action plans have you put in place, or are intending to put in place, to ensure delivery in the future?
6. I would be grateful to receive your reply by 25 November 1998. Once I have received reports from all train operators, and from Railtrack, I will want to consider whether I am satisfied that the actions and processes put in place by the industry are sufficiently robust to achieve and maintain the delivery of T-12, or whether further regulatory action would be appropriate.
7. I may wish to refer to or quote from the reports submitted to me in response to this letter in any further industry discussions or wider consultation. Should you wish to keep any part of your response confidential, this should be submitted separately, clearly identified as "confidential", with a statement included in your main response explaining that a confidential submission has been made, outlining the areas the confidential statement covers, and explaining why it is confidential.
8. I am writing in the same fashion to all passenger train operator Managing Directors.

JOHN SWIFT QC

TEXT OF LETTER TO MANAGING DIRECTORS OF PASSENGER TRAIN OPERATORS:

12 November 1998

DELIVERY OF INFORMED TRAVELLER
1. In June 1997, I wrote to you with my Objectives for Passenger Train Operators. Amongst other issues, these objectives demonstrated to you that I place great importance on the provision of timely and accurate timetable information. I specifically asked you to work with Railtrack to deliver your commitment to a robust and stable timetable which settled the timetable 12 weeks in advance (T-12). At my programme of visits to TOCs at the end of last year and into this year I discussed with you how these commitments would be implemented.
2. During the Summer timetable period it appeared that the industry was reasonably close to achieving full compliance with T-12. This position has now been compromised with a poor outcome of T-12 within the Winter timetable and a particular failure for many TOCs to deliver T-12 for the important Christmas period. The position has now been reached where customers on many important routes cannot plan or book their travel arrangements over Christmas. This should be unacceptable to you in terms of potential revenue loss and the negative impact on your customers. It is unacceptable to me both because passengers are not receiving the service they are entitled to expect and because it may discourage them from using the railway altogether.
3. I am committed to ensuring that the public has access to good and timely information about train times, and fully support the principles of Informed Traveller. I cannot accept a situation where industry parties seem to be blaming each other, rather than solving the problems. The current delivery problems appear to be having a significant adverse effect on passengers, and the consequences of those problems may have continuing adverse effects on the timetable planning process. I am therefore now seeking a report from each train operator, and from Railtrack, on the extent of the current problems, the way in which they are being handled and the actions being put in place to mitigate immediate adverse effects on passengers and to avoid similar problems occurring in the future.
4. I would like your report to cover the following issues:

(a) whether you are regularly achieving the Informed Traveller target of making timetable information available to your passengers twelve weeks in advance;
(b) whether you achieved the Informed Traveller target for services running over the Christmas period. If not, how early was information made available and for what percentage of services?
(c) Where timetable information and reservation systems remain unavailable, what actions are you taking to rectify this and how are you mitigating the impact of this lack of information on your customers?
(d) To the extent that you have not met the Informed Traveller target, what are the reasons for this? Please identify separately in your response general issues and issues specific to the Christmas period.
(e) Have you identified any specific deficiencies in the delivery processes and/or their enforcement?
(f) Have you sought to use the dispute mechanisms in the Track Access Conditions to attempt to resolve problems? If not please give your reasons.
(g) What resources have you committed to the delivery of T-12?
(h) To the extent that you have been unable to deliver T-12 to date, what specific action plans have you put in place, or are intending to put in place, to ensure delivery in the future?

5. I am aware that some train operators have successfully implemented T-12. If your company is one of these, I would be grateful to receive your comments on the effectiveness of the processes you have adopted, and whether you believe they are sufficiently robust to maintain delivery of T-12 in the future.
6. I may wish to refer to or quote from the reports submitted to me in response to this letter in any further industry discussions or wider consultation. Should you wish to keep any part of your response confidential, this should be submitted separately, clearly identified as "confidential", with a statement included in your main response explaining that a confidential submission has been made, outlining the areas the confidential statement covers, and explaining why it is confidential.
7. I would be grateful to receive your reply by 25 November 1998. Once I have received reports from all train operators, and from Railtrack, I will want to consider whether I am satisfied that the actions and processes put in place by the industry are sufficiently robust to achieve and maintain the delivery of T-12, or whether further regulatory action would be appropriate.
8. I am writing in the same fashion to all other passenger train operator Managing Directors and to Gerald Corbett at Railtrack.
JOHN SWIFT QC


Railhub Archive ::: 1998-11-12 ORR-001





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