On its second anniversary, the Rail Ombudsman is calling on the industry to increase awareness of the scheme. Have you used it to help resolve a dispute?
This is a guest post by Kevin Grix, Chief Executive and Chief Ombudsman at the Rail Ombudsman. All views expressed are Kevin’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
With close to a million complaints made to train companies since 2018, only a fraction have gone on to be escalated to the Ombudsman. Without action, the Ombudsman’s impact and influence could be compromised to the detriment of rail passengers.
Figures released this week on our second anniversary reveal that circa 6,500 complaints to train operating companies that remained unresolved to the satisfaction of the rail passenger, were escalated to the Ombudsman.
Of these, nearly 2% were centred around accessibility disputes. The Ombudsman also receives a significant number of contacts from passengers who are potentially vulnerable.
Over the past two years, 76% of rail passengers received a full or partial remedy to their in-scope dispute, with those awarded a financial settlement as part of the Ombudsman’s process, receiving on average £126.
Marking our second anniversary
The Rail Ombudsman was established in November 2018 following a campaign by consumer group Which? and was outlined as a pledge in the Conservative Party Manifesto released ahead of the 2017 election campaign.
RDG, DfT, the regulator and statutory bodies were then instrumental in setting up the scheme.
Decisions by the Rail Ombudsman are legally binding, and all train operators within England, Wales and Scotland are part of the scheme, which also provides learning and accredited City & Guilds training.
We know that railways are an essential part of daily life for millions of people and the cost of travel is not inconsequential. When things go wrong it can be very disruptive which is why passengers should know that there is a free and independent Rail Ombudsman for them to complain to.
Naturally at any milestone, as well as celebrating our successes, we know there is more to be done to increase the impact and reach of the Ombudsman.
Cases brought to us are lower than expected, therefore, we call on the industry to improve their signposting to the Rail Ombudsman.
Previously, before the launch of the Rail Ombudsman, if a passenger’s complaint was unable to be resolved by a train company, a consumer’s choice was limited, with the courts the only solution that was binding upon train operators.
As we suggest improvements to the industry based on the cases brought to us, the more visibility we have on rail passengers’ experiences, the more informed our recommendations to industry are.
We welcome your questions and views – please do let us know what you think of the scheme in the comments.
This was a guest post by Kevin Grix, Chief Executive and Chief Ombudsman at the Rail Ombudsman. All views expressed were Kevin’s own and not necessarily shared by Which?.