Complaints handling procedures


Information on complaints handling procedures for train and station operators.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme in the rail sector (the Rail Ombudsman) required changes to rail companies' Complaints Handling Procedures (CHPs). We have now conducted a Review of the Rail Ombudsman.

Guidance on complaints handling procedures Collapse accordion Open accordion

Train and station operators are required by their operating licences to establish and comply with a procedure for handling complaints relating to licensed activities from customers and potential customers. This procedure is known as the 'complaints handling procedure' (CHP) and it is approved and monitored by ORR.

In September 2015 we published new guidance on complaints handling procedures for licence holders, 2015. This followed a lengthy period of consultation with stakeholders.

A good complaints handling procedure should:

  • resolve individual complaints promptly and fairly, taking account of the reasonable interests of the complainant, including providing compensation as appropriate; and
  • lead to continuous improvement, so that in the medium term the root causes of complaints are addressed and systemic solutions are put in place.

We want to see organisational cultures that support and encourage these objectives and embedded arrangements that effectively regulate themselves, minimising the need for our direct involvement.

Our guidance for licence holders provides direction on what ORR will look for when exercising our approval role and when monitoring for continuing compliance. The guidance is designed to support licence holders in:

  • providing an easily accessible complaints handling service to customers;
  • developing  and maintaining sound customer-centric complaints handling protocols and practices;
  • using empirical data and evidence relating to complaints to drive through service improvements; and
  • understanding how we will regulate in this area.

Approval of CHPs for new franchises or new operators Collapse accordion Open accordion

Newly licensed operators or those with new franchise awards must establish and comply with a procedure to handle complaints.

For more in information please get in touch with us at

Decision letters Collapse accordion Open accordion

Once we have given our approval to a CHP we will publish a decision letter summarising areas of good practice and innovation, alongside a copy of the final CHP.

Monitoring Collapse accordion Open accordion

Full details of how ORR expects to monitor on-going compliance with licence holders' CHPs is set out in section 4 of the guidance on complaints handling procedures for licence holders 2015.

To monitor for compliance and the effectiveness of individual CHPs we will use evidence such as:

  • Core data sets, including information on the number, type, and underlying cause of complaints.
  • The ease with which passengers can make complaints, for example the accessibility of website information, passenger information leaflets provided at stations and information made available through social media.
  • Other relevant information published by licence holders such as the level of proactivity around communicating entitlements to compensation.
  • Feedback from TF and LTW and other third parties including, for example, the results of mystery shopping exercises.
  • Bespoke research conducted by ORR or in conjunction with TF and LTW.
  • Consumer insight gained by way of individual consumer complaints made to ORR, TF and LTW.

Contact us Collapse accordion Open accordion

For further information or to speak to us, please email