Passenger Focus

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Passenger Focus
Headquarters London
Chief Executive Anthony Smith
Budget £3.8 million[1]
Staff 47
Formerly called Rail Passengers Council and Committees

Passenger Focus is a watchdog non-departmental public body set up by the Government to protect the interests of Britain's rail passengers. The current Chief Executive is Anthony Smith.

The organisation offers information and advice to passengers and will pursue complaints on behalf of passengers which train companies have failed to resolve.

The organisation works out of two offices in London and Manchester.

History[edit]

Passenger Focus is the operating name of the Rail Passengers Council, a new body established by section 19 of the Railways Act 2005 to replace the Rail Passengers Council and Committees.

Its ancestry goes back to the Transport Act 1947, which created the Central Transport Consultative Committee (CTCC) and regional Transport Users Consultative Committees (TUCCs) as part of the Labour government’s nationalisation programme.

The original CTCC and TUCCs were abolished by section 56 of the Transport Act 1962, and replaced by new bodies with the same names. The CTCC and the TUCCs established by the Transport Act 1962 were abolished by sections 2 and 3 of the Railways Act 1993, and replaced by the Central Rail Users Consultative Committee (CRUCC) and regional Rail Users Consultative Committees (RUCCs).

At the government rail summit held in May 2000 the Chairman of the CRUCC announced that the CRUCC and RUCCs were rebranding themselves as “the RPC Network”, and that the CRUCC would in future be known as the Rail Passengers Council and the RUCCs as Rail Passengers Committees. These changes of name were subsequently legalised by section 227 of the Transport Act 2000.

In a statement to Parliament on 15 July 2004 announcing the publication of the “Future of Rail” White Paper Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Transport, said “the White Paper also supports proposals for reform from the Rail Passenger Council Chair as part of the review. So we will create a more independent national structure for the RPC. Giving passengers a stronger voice but maintaining a regional presence.”

The proposals for restructuring the “RPC Network” were contained in paragraphs 3.5.1 to 3.5.10 of the White Paper. Paragraph 3.5.4 stated that “its formal federal structure has not helped its overall effectiveness”.

The White Paper went on to say “through greater devolution rail will become a more integral part of regional cross-modal transport strategies. The RPC will need to develop its contacts with relevant regional bodies. But it is important that the RPC maintains its national voice.”

However, section 19 of the Railways Act 2005 abolished the Rail Passengers Council and Rail Passengers Committees and replaced them with a single body with the statutory name of the Rail Passengers Council with effect from 24 July 2005.

Paragraph 3.5.2 of the Future of Rail White Paper states that the cost to the taxpayer of the old RPC network in 2003-2004 was £5.9million. The Department for Transport’s 2006 annual report states that estimated taxpayers’ support for “Passenger Focus” will be £4.3 million for the period 24 July 2005 until 31 March 2006 and £5.5 million in financial year 2006-7.

Under Paragraph 15 and 16 of Schedule 5 of the Railways Act 2005, all meetings of the Rail Passengers Council convened by the Chairman must be open to the public, though the public must be excluded when confidential items are discussed. The "Board" of "Passenger Focus" (the Rail Passengers Council) did not meet in public until 13 September 2006. It met in private on nine occasions between 26 July 2005 and 13 June 2006. Minutes of meetings were first made available on their web site on 6 September 2006.

In June 2011 it was announced that Passenger Focus had been deprived of half of its operating budget and that the group of staff dealing with Train Operating Companies were to lose their jobs,[2]

References[edit]

External links[edit]