Rail industry appoints first ombudsman to improve complaints procedure for customers

Rail industry appoints ‘Dispute Resolution Ombudsman’ to rule on complaints as part of the rail industry’s plan to change and improve.

Working on behalf of train operators and Network Rail, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has appointed Dispute Resolution Ombudsman to establish the first ombudsman for the rail industry to rule on customer complaints. The independent body, which already provides an ombudsman service for other industries, will have the power to hold train companies to account.

Last October, as part of the industry’s joint plan to change and improve, rail companies committed to creating a rail ombudsman to further build confidence in services. The accessible and free to use rail ombudsman service will launch in November and it will cover rail journeys throughout Britain.

Customers that are unhappy with the outcomes of their complaints to rail companies will be able to refer them to be formally ruled on by experts in consumer rights, giving customers greater confidence that they will get a fair hearing. Decisions by the ombudsman will be binding and rail companies will have to take action if failings are identified.  The appointment follows a competitive procurement process.

Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, said:

“When train companies fall short, it is vital that passengers get the redress they deserve and are treated with respect.

“This is an important step by the industry - an independent and effective ombudsman, working closely with consumer groups, will ensure passengers get a fair deal and give them a stronger voice. And it will also help the rail companies to improve their service to passengers.”

Jacqueline Starr, Managing Director of Customer Experience at the Rail Delivery group, said:

“Rail companies have worked together to appoint the first rail ombudsman to help us deliver on the commitment set out in our long-term plan to increase customer satisfaction and remain the highest rated major railway in Europe.”

The new scheme builds on the successful passenger advocacy carried out by Transport Focus and London TravelWatch over many years.  The new ombudsman will have the power to make redress decisions that will be binding on train operating companies.

Train Operating Companies and Network Rail are supporting the ombudsman, reflecting their commitment to improve services for customers.

Kevin Grix, Chief Executive and Chief Ombudsman at the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, said:

“We are delighted to be appointed the Ombudsman for Rail and are looking forward to launching our service in November 2018. With our legal foundation and decades of experience providing alternative dispute resolution to some of the UK’s most recognised retailers we are well placed to support future improvement in the rail sector.”

The new ombudsman is part of the railway’s plan to change and improve. Working in partnership, the industry’s long-term plan will secure £85 billion of additional economic benefit, increase customer satisfaction, boost local communities and create more and better jobs in rail.

Notes to editors

  • Working together, the partnership railway of the public and private sectors has published a long-term plan, called In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity, to change and improve Britain’s railway. The plan will secure almost £85bn of additional economic benefits to the country and contains four commitments which will see rail companies: strengthen our economic contribution to the country; improve customers’ satisfaction; boost the communities we serve; and, create more and better jobs in rail. For more information go to Britain Runs on Rail.
  • Dispute Resolution Ombudsman works with the following organisations: DRO retail members


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