Passengers whose journeys are changed or cancelled can expect more flexibility on the part of train operators in future.
There is also a call for better clarity regarding passenger rights when charges are made to services on which they are already booked.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) wrote to train operating companies in January and, since then, most companies have put in place a new system which sends notifications to ticket retailers when trains are changed or cancelled more than 48 hours before travel.
Retailers include train companies, independent retailers or travel management companies. For passengers who book online, an email or text is sent telling them of any changes.
Now the ORR wishes to build on the progress already made by improving the clarity provided for passengers regarding their rights when booked trains are changed.
They are also advising operators to consider their policies relating to ticket flexibility, thus increasing choice and easing congestion.
The regulator has found that many notifications lack information and clarity as far as options available to affected passengers are concerned.
The ORR is seeking improvements in these areas, including setting out rights and options to passengers as well as considering policies on ticket flexibility when trains are cancelled.
These matters are also being discussed with independent retailers who are also responsible for informing passengers who have bought tickets through websites or apps. The expectation is that any necessary changes will be progressed at pace.
Stephanie Tobyn, director of strategy, policy and reform said: “Retailers and operators have recognised the need for passengers to receive accurate and helpful advice if their booked journey is changed. While 1.8 million notifications have already been sent this year, it is important that the notifications are easy to understand and provide useful information to passengers, including setting out their rights and options clearly.
“There is also a need for operators to look into offering more ticket flexibility for affected passengers, no matter what sort of ticket they have. A passenger who books their ticket in advance of travel needs to be treated fairly, not just offered a refund if the industry then changes its timetable nearer the date of travel.
“We will continue to monitor how the industry reacts to these concerns.”