The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has announced the appointment of the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman to address the rising number of complaints from passengers.

Rail companies committed to creating an ombudsman last October to “build confidence in services”, according to RDG.

The ombudsman is expected to launch in November and will be free to use for passengers. It will cover rail journeys across the UK.

Customers who are unhappy with the outcome of their complaints to rail companies will be able to refer them to be formally ruled on by experts in consumer rights. Decisions by the ombudsman will be binding and rail companies will have to take action if failings are identified.

Rail minister Jo Johnson hailed the announcement, saying it is “vital that passengers get the redress they deserve” when rail companies fall short of their duty.

He commented: “This is an important step by the industry – an independent and effective ombudsman, working closely with consumer groups, will ensure passengers get a fair deal and give them a stronger voice. And it will also help the rail companies to improve their service to passengers.”

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at RDG, said: “Rail companies have worked together to appoint the first rail ombudsman to help us deliver on the commitment set out in our long-term plan to increase customer satisfaction and remain the highest rated major railway in Europe.”

RDG says the new scheme builds on the work carried out by passenger advocacy groups Transport Focus and London Travelwatch.

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