THIS WEEK’S BIG QUESTION: Are the train operating companies coping with their PR challenge?

Last week’s report by train operators watchdog resulted in more negative press for the industry

Last week’s report by train operators watchdog resulted in more

negative press for the industry



Steve Bramall



The Waterfront Partnership



’Passengers thought that privatisation would result in an overnight

change for the better, but the lack of investment going back decades

cannot be changed overnight. The operating companies now have legally

binding minimum service obligations - unlike, the old British Rail - but

this key message has not been communicated properly. ATOC (the

Association of Train Operating Companies) has not given enough resources

to PR.’



Philip Dewhurst



Railtrack



’We are now in a classic post-privatisation syndrome - just like BT when

it was privatised. The railway industry needs to work together. It is

going to take several years for the benefits of the new investment to be

appreciated. There has been a lack of consistency in PR from the centre

of the industry.’



David Campbell Bannerman



ATOC



’The industry faces a hostile media and a sceptical Government. What is

required is a heavyweight reputation recovery campaign. This should be

lead by ATOC - the official voice of the industry - and it should

harness the resources of the individual train operators. We should

continue to respond robustly to ill-informed criticism while being

constructive about legitimate concerns.’



Will Whitehorn



Virgin Group



’Virgin is spending pounds 100 million on refurbishing trains and in

three weeks we will announce the biggest ever train order in UK

history.



The OPRAF figures show that we are doing better than BR already. We just

have to stand our ground. The new privatised rail industry only came

together seven months ago. This will be the year when people see big

changes in the PR of this industry.’



Philip Wilks



Central Rail Users’ Consultative Committee



’Improving the West Coast Main Line will take several years - it’s a

huge job and services are bound to be disrupted. However some of the 25

operating companies are still not communicating with their customers

properly about delays. This wouldn’t cost much. Most passengers are

reasonable people. They will understand as long as they are kept

informed.’



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