Which? has accused train companies of failing to deal with passenger complaints effectively – or even politely.
The consumer body analysed Office of Rail and Road data on complaint-handling for 2018/19 - which saw half a million complaints - which revealed fewer than half of passengers were satisfied with how train companies dealt with their complaints.
With three operators – Northern, Govia Thameslink Railway and Great Western Railway – one in five, or fewer, passengers with were satisfied with the outcome and/or handling of their complaint.
Most companies left passengers feeling more negative about them after the way their complaint was handled, the worst being the now defunct Virgin Trains East Coast, where 71% of passengers felt this.
Which? said some train companies were rated poorly by passengers when it came to receiving a courteous response to complaints.
The lowest ranked was Northern, whose passengers suffered delays and cancellations following the May timetable fiasco.
Which? said its findings ‘really cut to the core of our calls for a new rail ombudsman, which should be coming in by the end of 2018, having first been announced in 2017’.
Passenger watchdog Transport Focus said it would track the work of the new ombudsman very closely ‘to make sure it delivers measurable benefits for passengers’.
Chief executive Anthony Smith said: ‘Transport Focus has handled 7,000 appeals this year, including many about how well – or otherwise – train operators handle passengers who have faced a problem. Around 70% of passengers who turn to us tell us they are satisfied with the outcome we achieve.’
Paul Plummer, chief executive of industry body the Rail Delivery Group said: ‘We’re committed to improving the service for our customers and to upholding the highest standards in our complaints process. That’s why the rail industry has led the way on creating an independent Rail Ombudsman with powers to make binding rulings.’