PASSENGERS travelling on South Western Railway and Great Western Railway will soon have more rights to complain under new plans.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents UK train operating companies have appointed the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, which already works with other industries, to as independent body to hold train companies to account.

Under the new scheme, passengers that are unhappy with the outcome of their complaint will be able to refer them to be formally ruled on behalf of experts in consumer rights.

The scheme the RDG says will give customers greater confidence that they will get a fair hearing.

Decisions by the ombudsman will be binding and rail companies will have to take action if failings are identified.

It comes after data released by the Office for Rail and Road showed that SWR had the fewest complaints overall but the highest percentage specifically about punctuality perhaps highlights customer dissatisfaction in this area with the number of complaints made about SWR in Q3 making 39.3 per cent.

Train operating companies are all supporting the ombudsman, reflecting their commitment to improving train services for passengers.

Jacqueline Starr, Managing Director of Customer Experience at the Rail Delivery group, said: “Rail companies have worked together to appoint the first rail ombudsman to help us deliver on the commitment set out in our long-term plan to increase customer satisfaction and remain the highest rated major railway in Europe.”

The new ombudsman is part of the railway’s plan to change and improve as well as secure £85 billion of additional economic benefit, increase customer satisfaction, boost local communities and create more and better jobs in rail.

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of independent passenger watchdog Transport Focus added: “The introduction of free, binding and independent dispute resolution for some rail complaints is welcome – it is something we have called for over many years.

“This change will drive improvements in the speed and quality of complaints handling, building on the good work we have done successfully over the years."

The free to use service will be launched in November and will cover journeys throughout the UK.