COUNTY NEWS: Sussex MP calls for rail ombudsman

A ten minute rule bill put forward by a Sussex MP yesterday is a '˜practical way' to give '˜power back to aggrieved passengers', he said.

Wednesday, 21st December 2016, 8:49 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 10:15 pm

Tim Loughton, Member of Parliament for East Worthing and Shoreham, put forward a bill in the House of Commons that would establish a network-wide rail ombudsman and redesign the system of compensation.

The bill seeks to solve the issues of compensation and redress by creating a new scheme in which, every time a train is late beyond an agreed threshold, a penalty fine will be paid into a central pot independent of train operation companies.

The ‘primary purpose’ of the pot will be to compensate passengers who will be able to make claim in a ‘much simpler way than present’, a spokesperson said.

The pot would also be used to fund a new rail ombudsman, which would manage compensation claims, rather than the train operating companies.

The ombudsman, which would have ‘real teeth’ and ‘proper statutory powers’, would be based on the Energy Ombudsman model which is already in operation and could be adapted in the rail sector, the spokesperson said.

Any remaining funds from the central pot would be used to offset fare rises ‘thereby giving further payback to inconvenienced passengers’, the spokesperson said.

Mr Loughton said: “The Govia Thameslink franchise which includes Southern Rail is not working and has not been doing so for some time.

“My Bill would recalibrate the balance of power back to aggrieved passengers.

“My Bill alone is not an immediate solution but does represent a practical way forward to change the dynamics within the rail industry.

“Most of my constituents are primarily concerned with being able to use a reliable rail service that gets them where they want to be roughly when they anticipated rather than compensation for an unreliable service.

“However the two are not mutually exclusive and I believe my Bill will help to achieve both.”

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