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Darren questions government over efficacy of Rail Ombudsman

Darren Jones MP has question the government over the efficacy of the new Rail Ombudsman following a number of requests for support from constituents.

Darren Jones MP said:

” My office often supports constituents who have struggled to get legitimate refunds from third party rail retailers such as Trainline, the ticket booking company.

Following a recent case where Trainline attempted to evade my office’s enquiries for months, I asked the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will extend the remit of the new Rail Ombudsman to include oversight of train ticket selling platforms which are not operated directly by train operating companies.

I was told:

‘The Rail Ombudsman is a voluntary scheme established by the franchised GB rail companies who are its members. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is currently consulting on making membership of the Rail Ombudsman scheme mandatory for all the rail companies to which it issues licences.

Online train ticket selling platforms provided by members of the Rail Ombudsman scheme are already within the remit of the Ombudsman. However, online Third Party Retailers (such as the Trainline), which are not directly affiliated to Ombudsman scheme members, are not required to hold licences from the ORR and are not therefore within consideration for mandatory membership.

Nevertheless, the Rail Delivery Group is currently in discussions with Third Party Retailers and their professional body (the Third Party Rail Retailers Association) to explore the possibility of them joining the Rail Ombudsman scheme in due course’.

Third party retailers, such as Trainline, must be subject to investigation by, and the rulings of, the Rail Ombudsman. Given they sell hundreds of thousands of tickets each year, not to include retailers such as Trainline, seems to suggest a toothless regulator for millions of rail users.”

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