The timetable chaos that has led to huge disruption on Northern and Govia Thameslink Railway has had a negative impact on the finances, work and family lives of those who reported being affected, according to a Which? survey.
On 20 May, Northern Trains and GTR, which operates Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express, introduced new train timetables. Following the implementation, thousands of trains have been delayed or cancelled, and in many cases passengers have been left stranded on platforms.
In a survey conducted this week, three in five respondents affected by the timetable changes said they have had a negative impact on both their work (61%) and family life (61%), with nearly four in 10 (38%) also saying it had a negative impact on their health.
Close to one in two (49%) of respondents affected by the chaos said it has had an adverse effect on their finances. However, despite the ongoing disruption, 72% of respondents affected by the disruption said they had not been informed on the train or at the platform about any compensation they may be entitled to receive.
Under Delay Repay, the industry scheme that both Northern and GTR are signed up to, compensation is available for delays or cancellations, with the amount passengers are entitled to varying according to the length of delay.
Which? is calling for all passengers who have paid for their ticket through an electronic method of payment to be refunded automatically.
While the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has indicated a compensation package is being prepared for passengers, there is still not enough detail on what this will look like in practice.
Though the level of disruption appears to come as a surprise to the industry and Government, nine in ten (89%) respondents affected by the disruption believed operators should have anticipated teething issues and had a process in place to automatically compensate delayed passengers.
The survey also showed that almost two in three (65%) respondents troubled by the delays did not believe that they were adequately consulted about the timetable changes, and 85% said that the Government should do more to hold train companies to account for the failures.
Which? is encouraging passengers who have had to fork out for reasonable additional losses as a result of an operators failure to provide the service with reasonable care and skill, to claim compensation for this under the Consumer Rights Act.
With more timetable changes at the end of the year, the rail sector must provide assurances to passengers that this chronic disruption won’t be repeated.
Alex Hayman, Which? Managing Director of Public Markets, said:
“From start to finish, these timetable changes have proved to be a complete fiasco. The changes have resulted in chaos for passengers, many of whom are finding it a real struggle to get to work on time or back home to their families in the evening.
“Our research shows that passengers believe the consultation was inadequate, the delivery was bungled and the approach to compensation has been absolutely woeful.
“The Government needs to urgently sort out this farce. If they are to have any hope of restoring the faith of passengers, the compensation process should be immediate and automatic.”