Rail compensation

By | Category: Travel news
image of Virgin West Coast trains

Virgin Trains West Coast which had the highest compensation payout in 2015/2016…

Readers might remember that the consumer organisation, Which? complained during the summer about compensation for those suffering cancellations or delays on our trains.

If you fly, under EU261, you are entitled to compensation if you are delayed which varies depending on the length of the journey The same rule covers you if a flight is cancelled.

But the rail compensation system is more complicated and not that easy as it is with air travel where you can just download a form – as with EU261 – and submit it.

Now the Department for Transport (DfT) has published its thoughts. They say “ministers want to see rapid progress made by the industry to improve the way passengers are made aware of their entitlement to compensation and empowered to make a claim and also sets out some of the steps that the industry is taking already.”

Many companies issue rail vouchers redeemable against future use. Efforts will be made to ensure that cash refunds are also available.

In future, the DfT says, as part of any new franchise agreement, delay compensation will be liable if the train is fifteen minutes or more late. Existing franchise holders which do not already offer “Delay Repay” will be encouraged to adopt the scheme.

...and Northern Trains which paid out the least

…and Northern Trains which paid out the least

Delay Repay is the name of the scheme lets you claim back some or all of the cost of your ticket if you’re delayed by 30 minutes or more. It doesn’t matter why the train was delayed – it may not even be the train company’s fault – and the scheme has been designed so that everybody gets a fair amount back if they are delayed.

In 2015/16, rail companies paid out nearly £45 million in compensation, up from £25.6 million in the preceding year. To be fair  a chunk of that increase was because an additional seven rail companies joined the Delay-Repay scheme.

Passenger Focus, the consumer representation company, says that the number of passengers claiming has almost trebled – but is still less than half of all those eligible. It says that in 2013, nine in 10 of passengers eligible for compensation for delays did not claim. I am one of them!

Holidaymakers using trains to get to their destinations or flights are often hit with problems when trains a late missing flights and losing a chunk of their holiday time. Reducing the compensation trigger period to fifteen minutes might mean train companies will work harder to achieve punctuality so they don’t have to hand out so much compensation.

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