The Office of Road and Rail (ORR) is looking at options to reduce the time passengers must wait before seeking a resolution to complaints via the Rail Ombudsman.
More than half a million passenger rail service complaints were responded to by train operators in Great Britain between April 2019 and March 2020. The pandemic dropped this number to 133,003 in 2020 to 2021.
The ORR is considering a new code of practice which simplifies and strengthens their requirements to make sure complaints are handled in line with passenger expectations. They are consulting on this as well as faster access to the Rail Ombudsman if the passenger is not happy with how their complaint was handled by the operator.
Currently, the requirement is a wait of 40 days or a deadlock before the complaint can be accelerated to the Rail Ombudsman. The potential is this number of days could be halved, in an effort to incentivise resolution by train and station operators.
The ORR is also looking at new ways complaints can be submitted to train operators, such as via social media, and is getting input on new performance metrics regarding the handling of complaints.
Deputy director for consumers at ORR, Stephanie Tobyn, said: “Good complaints handling is an essential part of the service that train and station operators provide to their passengers.
“When things go wrong, it is important that there are effective means for passengers to submit complaints, and for operators to put things right.
“We want to ensure our requirements keep pace with passengers’ expectations – and seeking views on quicker access to alternative dispute resolution is part of that.”