The regulator for Britain’s railways has written to both Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Northern to find out whether either breached their requirements to do everything possible to provide passenger information before the May 2018 timetable was implemented, and in the ensuing disruption.
It comes after the lengthy disruption caused when the new timetable was put in place and it became clear that the rail system was not ready for such a change.
This led to an interim timetable that saw more than a hundred daily services cancelled, causing untold misery for passengers and businesses.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has written to both GTR and Northern to see if either breached Condition 4 of their ‘Statement of National Regulatory Provisions’, which requires train companies to provide “appropriate, accurate and timely information to enable railway passengers and prospective passengers to plan and make their journeys with a reasonable degree of assurance, including when there is disruption.”
An Interim Inquiry report from the ORR found that passengers were let down by mistakes made by a number of stakeholders, including GTR and Northern; the investigation found that passenger needs were put behind engineering and planning concerns during the planning stages, while information conveyed at the start of disruption was substandard.
The ORR is planning to use the findings from the letter, and its own Interim Inquiry report, as well as any further information provided to ORR, in order to conclude its investigation in time for publication of a full report before the end of the year.
By sending letters to both train operating companies, the regulator pointed out that this in no way implies any findings have been made about non-compliance by either company.
However, if either are found to be in breach of licence obligations, the ORR say enforcement action in the form of financial penalties could follow.