MP visits the Rail Ombudsman
Thursday, 30 March 2023: The Rail Ombudsman received a visit from local MP, The Right Honourable Stephen McPartland at its headquarters in Stevenage today.
An active employer within Hertfordshire, the independent and impartial Ombudsman scheme that was put in place in 2018 to help investigate unresolved passenger disputes, mediates between Rail Consumers and Train Operating Companies whilst helping to raise industry standards by providing feedback and training within the sector.
The Rail Ombudsman was established following a campaign by consumer group Which? and was outlined as a pledge in the Conservative Party Manifesto released ahead of the 2017 election campaign.
Mr McPartland met with the Chief Executive of the Rail Ombudsman, Kevin Grix who discussed the Ombudsman’s role as a leading employer in the area, its engagement with local communities and charitable organisations and the schemes’ wider part in supporting the Government’s strategic vision for the railways including boosting capacity, reliability and improving journeys.
Mr McPartland has been an MP since 2010 and represents constituents as well as delivers for the community in Stevenage, Knebworth, Datchworth, Codicote and Aston.
With over a million complaints¹ that were made to the Rail Industry since 2018, 74% of rail passengers with in-scope cases received a full or partial remedy with the Rail Ombudsman last year. As the front door for all rail complaints, the Ombudsman will signpost and transfer any escalations that are out of scope. A total of 4,399 in-scope cases were closed in 2022, taking an average of 24.7 days to close. A recent Ipsos survey ² reveals that consumers remain likely to reuse (67%) and recommend (65%) the Rail Ombudsman.
Kevin Grix, CEO and Chief Ombudsman, Rail Ombudsman said, “It was a pleasure to have Mr McPartland visit our Head Office and to give him a tour of the premises, whilst demonstrating how we’re implementing new strategies and tools as we look forward to the future. We know that railways are an essential part of the daily life for millions of people and the cost of travel is not inconsequential. When things go wrong it can be very disruptive which is why we’re here to support passengers, many who are potentially vulnerable, and provide a point of escalation for complaints about service providers in the rail industry.”
Decisions by the Rail Ombudsman are legally binding, and all train operators within England, Wales and Scotland are part of the scheme, which also provides learning and accredited City & Guilds training.
Stephen McPartland said, “The UK has set out plans for faster improvements in customer service and passenger experience, including improving redress for when things go wrong, and it was a pleasure to see how the Rail Ombudsman is supporting these targets. As a leading local employer, I was encouraged and am proud to see their engagement with the local community and charity work based at their HQ in Stevenage, the economic engine of Hertfordshire.”