ORR's guide to making a complaint

If you have a complaint about your experience when buying a ticket or travelling by rail, you should contact the relevant train company directly.

This guide explains the process for making a complaint to the relevant company within the rail industry. We also have separate information on complaints about the price of your train ticket or station car park.

How to contact the relevant train company

You can find a list of train companies on the National Rail Enquiry website, or you can phone National Rail Enquiries on: 08457 48 49 50 or National Rail Enquiries Textphone: 0845 60 50 600 (for customers with hearing impairments).

Before contacting the train company, you might like to look at the websites of Transport Focus or London TravelWatch, as their frequently asked questions and advice pages contain useful information that may help you when making a complaint.

What happens if you are not happy with the response you get?

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the train operating company or retailer, you can contact Transport Focus or London TravelWatch, as appropriate, who may be able to assist you further. You should note that they cannot take up your complaint until you have contacted the relevant train company and given it a chance to respond first, and you should enclose all previous correspondence with the train company/retailer.

Complaint handling procedures

All passenger train and station operators are required by their licences to establish and comply with a set of procedures for handling complaints from customers. Operators develop their complaint handling procedures (CHPs) in consultation with Transport Focus and London TravelWatch to ensure the passenger perspective is represented.

These procedures, and any material changes to them, require approval from us. Operators can refer to guidance, on what operators should include in their CHPs pdf icon PDF, 337 Kb.

Each train or station operator can supply a copy of their procedure.

Watch Harriet Gamper from ORR explain more about complaints handling guidance.

Your rights as a rail passenger?

The National Rail Conditions of Carriage (NRCoC) set out your rights when travelling by rail on the National Rail Network. If you are travelling to Europe by rail, please check with the company if other terms apply to the international part of your journey.

Individual train companies may give you more extensive rights than those set out in the NRCoC. These may be found in the relevant train company's Passenger's Charter or other publications. The relevant train company will be able to advise you of these, or you can often find them on its website.

You should also be aware of the terms and conditions of the ticket type you are using – Anytime, Off-Peak or Advance – as these vary. Details of these ticket types and their terms and conditions can be found on the National Rail website.

Types of complaints

Health and safety complaints

Complaints regarding health and safety on the railways can be sent to our customer correspondence team, which will forward your complaint to the relevant railway safety team member.

If you are a railway company employee and have a health and safety complaint that has not been successful with your manager, with the unions or with CIRAS, you may contact us and we will forward your complaint to the appropriate railway safety team member. Your confidentiality will be protected if you so request

Complaints about Network Rail

Network Rail is responsible for the stewardship of the railway network and this includes:

  • line-side maintenance including vegetation and fencing
  • track quality
  • environmental issues such as noise and vibration, pollution and graffiti
  • railway structures such as bridges, station buildings, overhead lines, tunnels and signalling
  • network maintenance, particularly engineering work and speed restrictions
  • property issues including changes to use of railway land

You should try to resolve your complaint with Network Rail in the first instance. However we provide information on what Network Rail are responsible for and how you can make an complaint or enquiry.

Please note that Network Rail's licence is deliberately designed so that our regulatory controls are at a high level, rather than at ground level. Because of this we are unlikely to be able to intervene in many individual complaints from members of the public.

Competition complaints

We enforce the Competition Act 1998 in the railway sector.

The Competition Act outlaws any agreements, business practices or conduct which has, or could have, a damaging effect on competition in the United Kingdom. This includes abuse by a company which uses its dominant position in a way that damages competition.

Where conduct has an effect on trade between member states we will apply Articles 101 and 102 of the European Treaty.

Read more information about the Competition Act.

Making a complaint to us

Your complaint might be about something that happened when you were looking for a ticket, buying a ticket, making a journey or making a complaint about a journey, and which you think is likely to happen to quite a few other people.

When making a complaint to us, you need to supply as much information as you can. We have put some examples of the type of information that we might need, below.

Not all of these will be relevant to each complaint, but you should provide the information that you think is appropriate, including:

  • copies of any correspondence that you have had with either the business concerned, Transport; Focus or London TravelWatch;
  • the type of ticket that you purchased (i.e. Anytime, Advance, Off peak, or a season ticket);
  • where your journey was to and from;
  • the time of day that you made the journey;
  • the name of the company that sold you your ticket;
  • how you bought your ticket (i.e. online, phone, at a station, from a machine); and
  • where did you get the information that your intended purchase was based on.

Also see our contact form.

Complaints about us

We aim to provide an efficient and helpful service to those who contact us for information on railway issues within the targets that the office has set.

However, should you feel unhappy with the standard of service you have received, you should put your complaint in writing to the senior executive in the customer correspondence team.

Your complaint will be acknowledged and forwarded to the relevant ORR director to investigate your complaint.

We aim to respond and investigate such complaints within 20 working days. If it becomes apparent that our investigation will take longer, we will inform you at the earliest opportunity.

Should you remain dissatisfied with our response, you may contact the Parliamentary Ombudsman to re-investigate the concerns you have raised.

Ultimately, it is the duty of the Parliamentary Ombudsman to ensure that public bodies comply with the terms of their complaints handling procedure, and ensure that customers receive the service to which they are entitled.

Our Customer correspondence team (CCT)

Our Customer correspondence team (CCT) deals with complaints, enquiries and Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from members of the public.

We ensure that anyone who contacts us receives a prompt and full response to their comment or query. We aim to:

  • provide you with a full response within twenty working days
  • refer your correspondence to the most appropriate organisation or regulatory body if necessary

Before contacting CCT, you may wish to read our Information for passengers section.

Contact details

Customer correspondence team
Office of Rail and Road
One Kemble Street

Email: contact.cct@orr.gsi.gov.uk

Alternatively you can call us on the following telephone number:
020 7282 2000

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