A new Rail Ombudsman is being introduced today to help manage customer complaints amid a radical shake up of the entire ticketing network.
The rail industry said it has worked with Government and consumer groups to appoint the new Rail Ombudsman – which launches for consumers on 26 November.
Until now, 99% of complaints made have been dealt with by train companies without the need for people to turn to an appeals process, according to data published by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
However, the Rail Ombudsman has been drafted in to build greater confidence, make the system more consistent and improve overall customer satisfaction.
If customers have a complaint about an event occurring from today and they are unhappy with how it has been dealt with by a rail company, they can now appeal to the Rail Ombudsman.
To escalate it, they’ll need to raise their concerns with the company first. If you’re not happy with their response, have received a ‘deadlock letter’ or if your complaint has not been resolved within 40 working days, you can then take it up a step.
An adjudicator will then take an impartial look at the case – and come up with a suitable, fair resolution.
“I’m pleased to announce that the independent Rail Ombudsman is launching, as part of our commitment to improving customer experience,” explained Jacqueline Starr, at the Rail Delivery Group.
“This new nationwide process will put the customer at the heart of resolving complaints and give them even greater confidence that we’re doing as much as we can to get to a fair outcome.”
The scheme fulfils a Government commitment to improve passengers’ experience on board Britain’s rail networks.
Rail Minister Andrew Jones, said: “This is a significant step forward for passengers’ rights. This independent ombudsman will make sure passengers are heard and that they get a fair deal when train companies fall short.
“Rail firms must take this opportunity to improve their complaints process and to increase customer satisfaction.”
Anthony Smith, of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said the move is a welcome step forward for passengers.
“We expect the ability of the Rail Ombudsman to impose binding decisions to resolve complaints – and the fact it can charge train companies fees for doing this – will drive improvements to the way most train operators handle passenger complaints,” he said.
“We will track the work and effectiveness of the new scheme very closely to make sure the Rail Ombudsman delivers measurable benefits for passengers.”
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