Super-complaint update

17 February 2016

ORR’s Deputy Director for Consumers, Stephanie Tobyn, is leading ORR’s response to Which?’s super-complaint on rail passenger compensation and gives an update.

Stephanie TobynThis week we crossed the halfway mark in our assessment of ORR’s and the rail industry’s first super-complaint.

With all our work, evidence is at the heart of the process.  As well as considering the helpful research Which? submitted when it lodged its super-complaint, we are forming an unbiased and independent view on the issues raised on the experiences of rail passengers claiming compensation. To make this happen, a team from across a wide spectrum of regulatory disciplines – including competition, consumer law and train licencing – have been doing just this.

They have met face-to-face with representatives from more than 20 Train Operating Companies (TOCs), scrutinising in detail their compensation policies.  Importantly we are collecting information on the real experience of passengers.  ORR is interested in what is really going on at train stations across the country; what kind of information is available to passengers, how easy do they find it to make a claim for compensation, and what potentially stands in their way.

We have been grateful for the positive engagement of TOCs and other stakeholders and their thorough responses to our questions. We are now analysing the evidence – piecing together the information into a comprehensive picture of passengers’ experience in claiming compensation when their journeys go wrong.

The timetable set out in legislation for handling a super-complaint means ORR has 90 days to publish its response.  We hit this deadline on 18 March. Ultimately, it will be for the ORR Board to decide by this date what comes next.  The possible outcomes include:

  • recommending that the quality and accessibility of information for consumers is improved
  • encouraging businesses in the market to self-regulate and promote good practice
  • making recommendations to government to change the legislation or public policy
  • taking competition or consumer enforcement action
  • give a clean bill of health

The above list is not exhaustive and it should also be noted that a super-complaint could generate more than one outcome depending on the issues raised.  Any regulatory measure would have its own established implementation process that needed to be followed, none of which happens overnight.

Whatever action we may take, our focus is always on ensuring passengers are at the heart of the railways.