WIN! The rail regulator will soon require all train companies to participate in a free-to-use ombudsman scheme to handle passenger complaints. We’ve been calling for this extra level of redress to protect your rights for some time, so will this change help you?
The new rail ombudsman will be responsible for investigating customer complaints when train companies have failed to take action.
If the ombudsman identifies valid complaints and claims that the train company has disregarded, then the ombudsman will be able to overrule the train company’s decision.
We hope that this ombudsman will help to improve standards across the industry, as well as ensure that your complaints can no longer be ignored by train companies.
Rail passenger rights
Back in the early days of our rail campaign in 2015, we called for an overhaul of the compensation system. Our research identified a sorry picture of misinformation with passenger rights, failure to compensate and a poor picture of people claiming compensation for an unsatisfactory service.
Our super-complaint to the rail regulator convinced the regulator to take action and review the system.
We then raised concerns over the standards of service across the industry – highlighting stories of regular delays and cancellations, dirty trains and overcrowded services. We urged the industry to improve, but flagged that an ombudsman to handle complaints could encourage better standards.
Fight for compulsory rail ombudsman
Over 100,000 people have supported our rail campaign calling for improvements to rail services. Last summer, we celebrated a mini-win for the campaign as the industry announced that an ombudsman would be on its way, but disappointingly this would have been a voluntary scheme. This wouldn’t be enough to improve standards across the industry.
The rail regulator has revealed today that it will make it mandatory for train operators to meet the standards set out by the Ombudsman Association, and this will be supported by legislation. So, this will essentially make the voluntary ombudsman scheme a compulsory ombudsman.
Most importantly for passengers who have complaints to make against a rail company – the ombudsman will be free, independent and able to make decisions that are binding on the rail company.
This new ombudsman should give you the confidence to ensure that if you aren’t happy with the way your complaint has been handled by the train company there is another route to be heard.
Complain for change
Thousands of you have shared your stories of nightmare services you’ve had to endure. We hope this scheme, which is expected to start later this year, will get the wheels turning on improving trains services across the industry.
Have you had a complaint about a train service that was poorly handled? Was your complaint successful? Do you think this new rail ombudsman will lead to improved train services?