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Passenger Focus budget cut by 50 per cent

Paul Clifton

June 14, 2011

Passenger Focus has cut 20 jobs following a 50 per cent cut to its annual budget.

The job losses include the highly respected rail passenger director, Ashwin Kumar and nine passenger link managers, who represented the organisation at regional level.

The watchdog is funded by government, although it acts independently.

Anthony Smith, the chief executive, said: ‘We will continue to ensure that the passenger voice is heard on key issues, such as less specified and longer franchises, potential changes to fares regulation and pockets of poor performance.

‘What we will do less of is working with individual train companies on passenger issues – we will have to focus on companies and areas where there is very poor performance.’

Passenger Focus will continue to be based in London with a small office in Manchester. It says the core function will remain the same, with 39 full time and two part time staff.

A spokeswoman said: ‘We took the decision essentially to retain or research, policy and communications capacity. But we accept we will do a lot less work with individual companies and local authorities.’

It will continue to publish the National Passenger Survey. Last year it handled 20,000 contacts from passengers, including 2,500 appeal complaints about train operators.

The funding cut completes the centralisation of what was originally a regional structure of local consultative committees led by volunteers, which sometimes followed different agendas. 

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