Rail service improvements and disruptions


‘Certainty, consistency and clarity’: ORR sets out plans for new ombudsman

The Office of Road and Rail (ORR) has tabled plans dictating that all rail companies will have to sign-up to a new ombudsman developed by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

Currently in the consultation period of development, the new body would deal with passenger complaints relating to issues on the railway.

Consumers association Which? has praised the decision, saying it receives thousands of complaints from rail users who say they have had “nightmare experiences.”

Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets at Which?, commented: “Making it compulsory for train companies to sign up to the new rail ombudsman is absolutely vital. All passengers must have confidence that they have someone to turn to if their complaint is not dealt with adequately by train companies.

“Thousands of people have told us about the nightmare experiences that they face on trains. It’s now up to the rail industry to get on board with this proposal and ensure that the rail ombudsman is up and running as soon as possible.”

The RDG is setting up the new ombudsman scheme at the request of the Department for Transport, and has been roundly support by the ORR.

The project is set to begin later this year and will create a free, independent body with the power to scrutinise companies and also make binding decisions expected to drive up standards across the industry.

Announcing the changes, ORR deputy director of consumers, Stephanie Tobyn, said: “Our surveys show that passengers are often dissatisfied with the way their complaints are handled, and this damage their trust in rail companies and the railway industry in general.

“An ombudsman scheme will give passengers real certainty, consistency and clarity in how their complaints are handled; that is why we want every rail company to be required to join it.”

The decision has come from a consultation run by the ORR since September of last year, which resulted in the recommendation that all companies should join the scheme within six months of its implementation.

More information on the changes and the ORR’s decision letter can be found here.

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