Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Sunday, 24 May 2009 16:45 UK

Passengers get say on rail works

Noticeboard showing cancellations
Engineering works, especially when they overrun, can bring chaos

Rail passengers are to be given a greater say over planned engineering works, Transport Minister Lord Adonis has told BBC 1's Politics Show.

The transport users watchdog, Passenger Focus, may soon be given a new right to appeal to the rail regulator if there is too much disruption at any one time.

They will also work with Network Rail to plan line closures.

This bank holiday weekend, Network Rail is carrying out engineering work across the UK.

It is part of a £35bn investment in the railways.

For many rail passengers, bank holidays can be one of the worst times to travel as widespread engineering works lead to delays, diversions and disruption.

Here we go again - another bank holiday, more disruption, more problems for people getting out to their destinations, and probably more cars on the road - just what we want to avoid
Louise Ellman, Transport Select Committee chairman

Now, the transport minister says he wants passengers to have more say over when and where works take place.

"I want to see a louder voice for passengers. But passengers don't themselves want to get into the detail of planning engineering works and alternative services and so on. What they want is someone who can speak on their behalf.

"Now Passenger Focus, which is the statutory body and acts on behalf of passengers, is well placed to play a bigger role, in the planning of major engineering works, and being able to object, where the passenger voice isn't being listened to by Network Rail."

The Department for Transport said Passenger Focus would be able to object to the Office of Rail Regulation where they judge that closures are "unnecessary or excessive".

Transport Select Committee chairman Louise Ellman said: "Here we go again - another bank holiday, more disruption, more problems for people getting out to their destinations, and probably more cars on the road - just what we want to avoid.

She said Network Rail's board needed to represent its customers - the passengers.

A Passenger Focus spokeswoman said: "We are delighted to take up this new challenge and look forward to exploring the new role and ensuring we put our passengers' voice at the heart of planning engineering works."



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24 May 09 |  England

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