We wish to be recognised as a train operating company that offers excellent customer service to all.
We take the views of our customers very seriously and act on the findings of surveys such as the National Passenger Survey. We use these results to determine areas for improvement and investment. Our employees are trained to offer excellent service to all our customers, and we have many individuals and teams that go the extra mile, especially at times of service disruption through for example bad weather.
We have developed a code of practice that addresses what we believe to be ethical practices in procurement and supplier management, which includes business to business relationships. In terms of finance we receive funding from a limited number of sources, all of which are covered by the Audit Commission.
Northern operates in a multi-stakeholder environment ï¿½ with five Passenger Transport Executives who are signatories to our Franchise Agreement, local authorities, Regional Development Agencies, future Local Enterprise Partnerships, Community Rail Partnerships, rail user groups, MPs, MEPs, councillors and many other bodies who have an interest in our activities. Managing relations with stakeholders is just as much part of the ï¿½day jobï¿½ as operating the train service, and we invest a great deal of resource in building and maintaining good relationships. We actively engage with stakeholders through events and conferences, and survey them for opinions on areas of strength and areas for improvement.
We realise that to make train travel the mode of choice it must not only offer a good service but be financially accessible to all. However, it has to be acknowledged that the fare structure is heavily regulated, with little room for manoeuvre. Where we can influence fares, we do, by promoting off peak travel tickets. We offer a number of ticketing deals and target specific groups, often linking travel by train with visitor attractions. We seek to ensure that where it is in our power to do so our price increases do not have an adverse affect on our customers and liaise closely with Passenger Transport Executives when making changes to our pricing.
We provide vital connectivity across our network in a way which enables us to play an increasingly strong role in the development of the North. Our services improve access to jobs, stimulate tourism and provide transport opportunities for less mobile members of society. We are passionate about improving the rail network but we are also incentivised to do so by our Franchise Agreement with the Department for Transport. By improving our services we can attract more people to rail. However, we are a business - if we stimulate additional demand we will also generate additional revenue. Much of this revenue is reinvested, some is passed to the Department for Transport to reduce the subsidy, and some is returned to our shareholders. We have seen passenger growth since 2004, and while that is fantastic, it also brings constraints due to capacity issues on the trains. We therefore are working closely with the DfT to deliver additional capacity to the network.
To ensure revenue is collected we are working hard to offer alternatives to buy tickets, from ticket vending machines and online, and have improved revenue protection at stations through better collection and automatic ticket barriers.
Following the torrential rains and floods in winter 2009, Workington in West Cumbria was effectively cut off with no access by road. The railway was the only way to get in or out. However, the existing network was under increasing strain. Through a great partnership effort between DfT, Northern, local authorities and Network Rail a new temporary station was opened in four days. Extra train stops were made and a new shuttle service operated by DRS was introduced. This resulted in one of the finest examples of teamwork seen in the rail industry.
When we issued a tender for our uniform contract in 2010 we wanted to ensure that the ethical credentials of the supplier were sound. The preferred supplier Dimensions worked with us to ensure that they would meet the criteria set out in our ethical code of conduct.
We have been able to specify minimum use of virgin materials. We will also set up a secure disposal scheme for our employee uniforms, whereby redundant and obsolete garments are disposed of by shredding and then used as filling for household items such as cushions.
The picturesque Esk Valley line (Middlesbrough to Whitby) is typical of many rural routes on our network. Providing accurate train running information can be difficult because the signalling on these routes often doesn't have the technology to automatically report a train's location. However, customers on this particular route are now benefitting from more accurate travel information with a trial of GPS vehicle tracking capabilities on Northern trains. The GPS tracking equipment was part funded by Network Rail.
Our customers' have been asking for online ticket retailing for a while now, and during that time we were working on developing a system that worked effectively. It was launched in September 2011 with a range of planned marketing activities to ensure our customers understood and would benefit from the convenience of online retailing.
Thousands of passengers throughout West Yorkshire have benefitted from a £600,000 investment in new customer information systems. Thanks to a partnership between Northern Rail and Metro, 18 stations across West Yorkshire received the installations, offering passengers up-to-the-minute train running information, as and when they need it.