Station concourse and departure board (Photo ORR)

UK: Dispute Resolution Ombudsman Ltd has been awarded a new contract to operate the Rail Ombudsman scheme, which was launched in 2018 to resolve disputes when passenger complaints cannot be settled directly with train or station operators.

Sponsorship of the scheme is being transferred from the Rail Delivery Group to the Office of Rail & Road later this year as part of reforms set out in the May 2021 Plan for Rail.

DRO Ltd is an independent not-for-profit government approved body which provides alternative dispute resolution services for the rail, retail, furniture and home improvement sectors.

It currently operates the Rail Ombudsman scheme under an RDG contract, and was awarded the new five-year contract by ORR following a competitive tender.

Under ORR sponsorship the scheme will:

  • build improved representation of disabled passengers’ interests into its governance arrangements;
  • introduce a requirement to test the usability of the scheme for passengers with disabilities, as well as general passenger awareness of the service;
  • strengthen relationships with transport user groups.

ORR also intends to review options for reducing current case-handling response times down from the current standard of 40 working days.

‘ORR sponsorship provides ongoing stability to the Rail Ombudsman scheme, assures its independence, and supports its continued evolution in driving continuous improvement across industry’, said Stephanie Tobyn, ORR Director for Strategy, Policy & Reform, on May 30.