Sharon has worked for Transport Focus since 2006 and now leads the work on rail franchising.
This is a priority area as new franchises, or fresh agreements with the incumbent operator, provide the opportunity to press for a range of passenger benefits to be incorporated in the contract and delivered.
Developments in Wales, specifically the procurement process for the South Wales Metro and Wales and Borders rail service have been a particular focus for Sharon over the last year. Transport Focus has recently completed qualitative research, funded by Transport for Wales (TfW) and the Department for Transport, to explore passenger perspectives and aspirations for the new contract.
Other research, including the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) and Passengers’ Priorities for Improvement, has also been interrogated to provide a strong evidence base to inform discussions with Welsh Government, TfW and bidders for the rail service.
This dialogue is a key part of franchise activity. Sharon works closely with procurement teams to highlight the key passenger issues for each franchise and make recommendations about how they can be addressed. She also provides advice on passenger satisfaction metrics based on the NRPS. Sharon and colleagues engage in detailed discussions with bidders as well as exchanging information with other stakeholders and passengers.
Franchise activity is underpinned by evidence of passenger experience and future aspirations. This is drawn from the breadth of Transport Focus research and, as in Wales, frequently involves commissioning bespoke studies to explore issues specific to an individual franchise.
Further details of Transport Focus research and input to franchises can be found at:
www.transportfocus.org.uk and https://www.transportfocus.org.uk/key-issues/franchising/