The number of complaints made by rail passengers rose eight per cent to top 500,000 in the past year, according to research published today by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
The independent regulator said that over half of people were dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint and the way their complaint was handled.
Half of train firms didn't provide a full response to 95 per cent of complaints they received within the required 20 working days.
The ORR said that as a result of this, it was supporting the introduction of a rail ombudsman to provide a better service to passengers and offer a means to resolve dispute.
Heathrow Express topped the list of operators when assessing the complaints rate per 100,000 journeys, followed by Grand Central and Virgin Trains West Coast.
Heathrow Express' director Fraser Brown however, said:
We were surprised to see this report by the ORR, as it is completely opposite to the findings released by Transport Focus in the National Rail Passenger Survey this week where Heathrow Express scored a satisfaction rate of 97 per cent, the best in the UK.
The Heathrow Express customer team are currently talking to the ORR to understand their findings, which we believe are misleading.
Complaints made to train firms about accessibility issues are relatively low - under one complaint for 100,000 customer journeys for most firms. But, the ORR said in some cases, a single complaint can indicate a serious issue.
|The top reasons for complaints|
|2. Online ticket sales|
|3. Facilities on board|
|4. Ticket buying facilities|
|5. Ticketing and refunds policy|
John Larkinson, director of railway markets and economics, said:
ORR is committed to protecting the interests of passengers and ensuring they get the best possible experience – from paying the right price for their ticket and receiving help they need on their trip, to being treated properly should anything go wrong.
We are seeing that the industry is improving customer service in some areas, such as compensation for delays, but the quality of service when dealing with passenger complaints needs to be better. This is why we are supporting setting up an ombudsman and will also continue working with industry to keep offering a better service to passengers.