Rail should have passengers at its heart, yet despite bearing the majority of the cost of running the railway, passengers are not getting a decent service. The average fare per journey is over 20% higher in real terms than it was in 1994, yet punctuality across Great Britain sank to a 13-year low in 2018, and overcrowding has worsened on many parts of the network. Events such as the timetabling crisis of May 2018 have highlighted the lack of accountability and transparency within the sector. It is not surprising that our bi-monthly survey of consumers has shown distrust of the rail industry growing over the past five years.
Since Which? began campaigning for better rail services, we have achieved significant wins on behalf of passengers. We’ve issued a super-complaint, made the Consumer Rights Act apply to train companies, forced better compensation rights and successfully campaigned for the introduction of a Rail Ombudsman. We’ve gained over 100,000 supporters and shared thousands of passenger stories with government and the regulator to ensure passengers’ voices are heard. We welcome the Williams Review as an opportunity to achieve substantial and meaningful improvements for all rail passengers. We want to ensure that the review results in a railway that works for passengers.
This report is the result of extensive primary and secondary research, aimed at understanding both the rail industry and its passengers, supplemented by consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. It sets out our findings from this process and makes recommendations for reform, as well as some areas for further consideration.