How does the Rail Ombudsman work?
The Rail Ombudsman’s run by an independent, not-for-profit alternative dispute resolution service, the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman.
It will review your complaint and try to reach an agreement between you and the rail firm. If agreement is not reached, it can make a decision which is binding on the rail firm, provided you agree with it. If you don’t agree with the ombudsman’s decision, you don’t have to accept it and can instead try to pursue your complaint through other channels, such as Transport Focus or the small claims court.
While the Rail Ombudsman has binding powers to make rail firms issue refunds or compensation, it is not the industry regulator, so can’t punish rail firms through fines etc. But it will aim to provide recommendations and insight to help improve services.
The scheme is technically voluntary for train firms at the moment, but all those franchised by the Department for Transport are members, which means all rail journeys in England, Scotland and Wales are covered (apart from those on local transport concessions such as Transport for London services and Tyne and Wear Metro).