Rail passenger delay compensation should be easier, says regulator

21 March 2016

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the safety and economic regulator for Britain’s railways, says eight out of ten passengers don’t claim compensation for delayed train journeys and wants to see this changed.


The ORR is calling for:

  • A national promotional campaign to increase awareness.
  • All written communication from train companies, including forms and websites to be written clearly and in plain English.
  • Improved training for support staff.
  • A review of consistency between train companies to ensure that compensation rights are clearly promoted.
  • A clearer licence condition ensuring that compensation rights are a key element of good passenger information for all train companies.


These recommendations are in response to a ‘Super-complaint’ filed by Consumers’ Association Which? Last December, made on behalf of all rail passengers, that raised concerns that most passengers are not aware of (or apply for) any compensation to which they are entitled.


How is compensation currently handled?

Since last July, compensation has been available in the form of cash rather than vouchers.

Different train operators have different rules and procedures for dealing with delay compensation. For example, South West Trains will compensate you if your journey was delayed by 60 minutes or more, as will Great Western Railways. East Midland Trains, however, will repay 50% back for delays between 30 and 59 minutes and 100% for delays of 60 minutes or greater, which is the more common setup. In the majority of cases, the procedure involves printing off and filling out rather unwieldy forms.

Additionally, delay compensation is usually limited to cases that don’t involve planned engineering works, emergency timetable changes, scenarios out of the operators’ control (so-called ‘acts of God’ such as weather conditions) or cases of suicide, vandalism, gas leaks and other miscellaneous disasters.

However, a new government scheme called ‘Delay Repay’ is being introduced throughout the UK’s rail network. This entitles customers to a refund of 50% for delays of more than 30 minutes and 100% for 60, regardless of the reason. Some operators, such as c2c, offer an automatic repayment system but for others you’ll still need to fill in a form.

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