Passengers at Leeds station.

UK: The Office of Rail & Road issued new guidance on complaints handling procedures for the rail industry on October 26, saying it aimed to reflect developments including social media and ‘ensure that the industry is keeping pace with the changing needs and expectations of passengers.’

The previous guidance from 2005 has been updated to include:

  • Having a clear process to distinguish between complaints and feedback, particularly in use of social media platforms such as Twitter;
  • A requirement for train or station operators to co-ordinate responses to complaints about third parties such as car park providers or catering staff, to ensure that the passenger is not disadvantaged by having to address a complaint to several different bodies;
  • A new obligation to establish an appeals handling process with passenger bodies Transport Focus and London Travel Watch, where they think this would be appropriate;
  • ORR monitoring of compliance, including publication of key performance data demonstrating how train operating companies are complying with their obligations to disabled passengers and managing passenger dissatisfaction.

‘We want to see the industry use complaints information, as well as general passenger feedback, to identify the root causes of dissatisfaction and take targeted action to improve the overall customer experience’, said Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director, Consumers, at ORR. ‘The new guidance is aimed at making sure that the industry focuses on putting the right training, staff and organisational structures in place to deliver a continuously improving railway for passengers.’

  • ORR is also reviewing the ticket market to determine whether the current industry arrangements, rules and regulations, which are over 20 years old, are ‘still relevant and providing the best outcome for passengers’.