FROM today, passengers unhappy with the service they have received from one of Britain’s rail companies will be able to lodge their complaint with a new organisation.

The Dispute Resolution Ombudsman has been created to act as an independent body that will oversee the performance of train companies.

Its rulings will be binding, and rail firms will have to take action to respond to its judgements if failings are flagged up.

A new body is required as the previous system for making complaints was simply not working. Figures released by the Office for Rail and Road show that fewer than 30 per cent of people who made a complaint to a rail company in 2017-18 were satisfied with the outcome of their action. That is unacceptable.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones has described the launch of the new ombudsman service as a “significant step forward for passengers’ rights”, but for real change to occur, the train companies need to display a willingness to start taking passengers’ complaints more seriously than they have in the past.

The rail network is under immense strain at the moment, and problems will inevitably occur. We accept there is no magic wand to create extra trains or free up seats on extremely busy services.

When things go wrong though, passengers need to know their complaints are being properly addressed. And the train companies need to use those complaints to introduce changes that will improve the service they provide.