UK rail operating companies associated with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) have supported the creation of a new independent ombudsman service that will be responsible for investigating and resolving customer complaints.

The initiative is expected to start early next year and is expected to improve rail services, as well as settle all complaints made by commuters.

UK Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “After my discussions with rail industry leaders I am delighted to see they are taking this vital step, which will help ensure that passengers get a fair deal.

“I am committed to putting passengers at the heart of everything we do and I want them to have a stronger voice.

“The way to achieve this is to set up an independent and binding process to resolve complaints.”

The new ombudsman service will be free-to-use and will be provided by experts in consumer rights to ensure that customers receive a fair hearing.

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"After my discussions with rail industry leaders I am delighted to see they are taking this vital step, which will help ensure that passengers get a fair deal."

RDG is working with the Department for Transport (DfT), the Office of Rail and Road, Transport Focus and London TravelWatch to develop proposals for the new independent body. 

The service will be developed on the basis of the advocacy work carried out by Transport Focus and London TravelWatch, and the ombudsman's experts will be able to investigate disputed complaints on behalf of customers.

However, they will not have the right to instruct train companies to take appropriate action should any failings be identified.

RDG Customer Experience managing director Jacqueline Starr said: “Working together train companies are drawing up and fully supporting plans for an independent ombudsman to make journeys better now and for the long term.

“A fair, friendly, strong and independent appeals service will help rail companies learn lessons as they continue to invest to better connect the country.”

RDG said that the details of the ombudsman service will be announced later this year following a tender process.