The Rail Ombudsman – one year on

9 July 2020
Marcus Clements
Marcus Clements
Head of Consumer Policy

We all want train companies to provide the service we ask of them, and where they can’t, we want them to sort out the problem quickly and efficiently. But what happens if they don’t?

Launched in November 2018

The Rail Ombudsman was formed to provide passengers a means of final, binding resolution to complaints that a train company has been unable to resolve. So far, it has received more than 3,200 disputes and investigated around half of these, the rest largely being people who contacted them too soon.

One year review

We monitor train companies’ complaints handling performance, and take action where they’re not meeting their obligations, and we also publish data to show how they are performing. But the arrangements for the Rail Ombudsman are different, it was set-up voluntarily by the industry. So when it was established, we said that we would carry out a review of year one to look at how it is performing and the governance arrangements for ensuring its independence.

What did we find?

Our independent review found that the Rail Ombudsman is working well; meeting key performance indicators and the service it provides is valued by the train companies.

Unsurprisingly however, given that this is year one, there is still more to do. It needs to grasp the aspect of its role which requires it to be a driver for change in individual companies and across the industry by proactively using the information it has gained from handling complaints, and to get more detailed and regular feedback from passengers.

More generally, there is a need to ensure that the arrangements put in place to protect the independence of the Rail Ombudsman are working effectively.

What next?

The review has made a series of recommendations that we intend to take forward. These include ORR taking on a bigger role to help to drive improvements in the governance arrangements which support the Rail Ombudsman’s independence, and for the Rail Ombudsman to develop its role to make a greater impact and influence on the industry and ultimately improve the service passengers receive.

We’ll now work with the Scheme Council (the main body responsible for the governance and assurance of the Rail Ombudsman), Rail Delivery Group, and the Rail Ombudsman to ensure that these improvements are delivered to help it succeed.

You can find the full report on our website

Contact Name
Marcus Clements