The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) will soon require all train operators to sign up to a mandatory rail ombudsman scheme.
Expected to be introduced this year, the ombudsman scheme has been developed by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).
The ombudsman will be independent and its decisions will be binding on rail companies.
The ORR said rail operator licenses would be modified to require participation in the scheme. It believes the change is required to “provide assurance for all passengers that their complaint will always have independent scrutiny”.
Stephanie Tobyn, ORR deputy director of consumers, said: “Our surveys show that passengers are often dissatisfied with the way their complaints are handled, and this damages their trust in rail companies and the railway industry in general.
“An ombudsman scheme will give passengers real certainty, consistency and clarity in how their complaints are handled; that is why we want every rail company to be required to join it.”
Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus which published the National Rail Passenger Survey, said: “Passengers will welcome the consistency that comes with all train companies becoming members of the new Rail Ombudsman scheme. The rail network needs to work as just that with no gaps in consumer protection coverage.”