Contents of Customer Information Group meeting on 17th February 2022

Northern Trains Limited did not have the information requested.

Dear Northern Trains Limited,

Please can you supply information regarding the phone meeting of Rail Delivery Group's Customer Information Group telephone meeting on 17th February?

To identify the group, I'm informed that RDG’s organisation comprises an internal governance structure, headed by its Customer Board. The Customer Board sits above the Customer Information Strategy Group (“CISG”), which itself heads two sub-groups: the Customer Information Group (“CIG”), which deals with issues related to customer information, and the Accessibility & Inclusion Group (“A&IG”), which deals with issues regarding compliance with licence-linked accessibility requirements. Apparently the CIG and the A&IG have delegated authority from the CISG in relation to a number of matters (including, in the case of the CIG, the power to adopt a “Do Not Travel” recommendation). Representatives from all TOCs sit in the CIG. I'm assuming that a Network Rail representative also sits in the CIG.

I'm informed that on Thursday 17 February 2022, shortly after the Met Office issued a Red Weather Warning for Storm Eunice, a meeting of the CIG took place, by way of a telephone call. During this call, the CIG apparently agreed a course of action which included the nationwide issue of “Do Not Travel” notices for train operators.

It is this meeting that I am specifically interested in.

Please could you supply me with the notes and communications your representative made during and as a direct result of this meeting? I'm wanting anything that indicates what topics were discussed and what decisions were made. Contemporaneous notes, internal or external emails received or sent that reveal what was discussed at this meeting, and what decisions were made and actions agreed, would be great.

Please can you also advise me about the power and responsibility of your representative on the group? I am not wanting any personal data, I am wanting to know what their role involves and what powers they have to bind your company / to agree to proposals agreed by the group.

In specific, I am instructed that the issue of pre-booked assistance bookings was raised during the call. Apparently the CIG discussed the actions to be taken in that regard, considering the risk that TOCs would not be able to deliver the pre-booked assistance during Storm Eunice. It was apparently agreed during the call that customers with pre-booked assistance bookings should be contacted by TOCs to cancel their assistance booking; and that no further pre-booked assistance bookings should be arranged for 18 and 19 February 2022.

I'm not sure I find it credible that this group, which is not the accessibility and inclusion group, has the authority to agree to cancel and refuse assistance bookings. What I'm wanting to know is whether the group did actually discuss such and reach that decision. If so, whether your rep on that group agreed to such cancellations and refusals, whether they had authority to do so and if so, how they communicated this decision within your company.

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

Doug Paulley

SMB - FOI, Northern Trains Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Doug Paulley,

Please find attached our response to your recent Freedom of Information request.

Kind regards,

FOI Team, Northern Trains

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Dear SMB - FOI,

Thank you, I appreciate that useful information.

What I'm wanting to find out is whether the potential cancelling and refusal of passenger assistance bookings during Storm Eunice was actually discussed on that call, if so how, or if not if it was otherwise discussed with Northern in some other way.

The difficulty is that from what you've said, you won't hold any recorded information about the call (presumably the informatin from the call was passed on verbally or by telephone.) I understand that, and I appreciate that the Freedom of Information Act only requires release of recorded information.

You have been very helpful, and I don't want to abuse your helpfulness, however I wonder if you might help me one more time, perhaps under your Section 16 duty to provide advice and assistance.

Do you hold any recorded information that would help me further about how the decision ostensibly to refuse and cancel assistance during Storm Eunice was made and communicated by/with other TOCs and RDG? Is there a better FOI request I could make to yourselves for information to find out how this decision came about? If so I'd really appreciate your help in accessing this information. If the only information you have that is relevant to the topic is that from the A&I group you've already provided (and which was very helpful and enlightening), then I will desist and stop occupying your time.

Whilst you are of course not required to generate new recorded information or to provide unrecorded information in response to a Freedom of Information Request, if your manager is able to say whether the purported assistance booking cancellation proposal or decision was discussed in the meeting, and if so some idea as to how it was discussed or what was said, I'd be ever so grateful. Though I do of course understand you are under no obligation to provide that information to me.

Thank you for this; it is important, to me and to others, and I appreciate your help and candidness in your responses to my queries.

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

SMB - FOI, Northern Trains Limited

Dear Doug Paulley

We write in connection with your request for further information which was received by Northern Trains on 12/05/2022. This followed our response to your FOI (ref FOI241) about the Customer Information Group meeting:

“What I'm wanting to find out is whether the potential cancelling and refusal of passenger assistance bookings during Storm Eunice was actually discussed on that call, if so how, or if not if it was otherwise discussed with Northern in some other way.

The difficulty is that from what you've said, you won't hold any recorded information about the call (presumably the informatin from the call was passed on verbally or by telephone.) I understand that, and I appreciate that the Freedom of Information Act only requires release of recorded information.

You have been very helpful, and I don't want to abuse your helpfulness, however I wonder if you might help me one more time, perhaps under your Section 16 duty to provide advice and assistance.

Do you hold any recorded information that would help me further about how the decision ostensibly to refuse and cancel assistance during Storm Eunice was made and communicated by/with other TOCs and RDG? Is there a better FOI request I could make to yourselves for information to find out how this decision came about? If so I'd really appreciate your help in accessing this information. If the only information you have that is relevant to the topic is that from the A&I group you've already provided (and which was very helpful and enlightening), then I will desist and stop occupying your time.

Whilst you are of course not required to generate new recorded information or to provide unrecorded information in response to a Freedom of Information Request, if your manager is able to say whether the purported assistance booking cancellation proposal or decision was discussed in the meeting, and if so some idea as to how it was discussed or what was said, I'd be ever so grateful. Though I do of course understand you are under no obligation to provide that information to me.

Thank you for this; it is important, to me and to others, and I appreciate your help and candidness in your responses to my queries.”

Unfortunately, our FOI Team does not have the capacity to deal with anything beyond requests for recorded information. We are a small team, with a team member leaving imminently, and our resources must be concentrated on the actual FOI requests we receive.

We recognise the importance of the work you are doing and our duty to provide assistance under Section 16. We do not consider there is anything we can provide other than the disclosure we have already made and we do not believe that there is a different wording of your request that would yield anything different from us.

Kind regards,

FOI Team, Northern Trains

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