Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell has thrown her support behind a Parliamentary Bill to set up a national Rail Ombudsman.
The new watchdog would scrutinise performance and complaints and represent the interests of passengers. It would also be able to fine train operating companies for poor service, late running and cancellation of trains.
“This bill will go some way to address the enormous problems passengers have in getting a fair deal from train operators when services do not come up to scratch,” said Caroline.
“The Southern Rail fiasco have sadly shown how the system for pursuing complaints and getting a refund for shoddy services is simply not fit for purpose, needs radical overhaul and must be more effective.
“But the issue of poor rail services is not confined just to our part of the world, so a national ombudsman seems like a positive step forward to raise standards and allow better and timely compensation for passengers when the service is poor.”
Caroline said present compensation practices mean Network Rail, which runs the tracks, gives money to the train operating companies for issues like points failures but these operating companies do not have to pass the cash onto passengers and they often they keep the money.
Direct compensation to passengers must also be simplified to make it less bureaucratic so that passengers actually lodge a claim and get compensation easily.
“This bill has my wholehearted support and I will be lobbying ministers to get it government support so that it has a real chance of becoming law.
“For far too long rail passengers have been getting a bad deal across the board and the Government must do more to empower the public on this issue.”
The Ten-Minute Rule Bill was presented by Tim Loughton on 20 December, supported by Caroline, and it will have its second reading on 24 March.