National Rail’s conditions of carriage mean that if you run into trouble with your train journey your compensation will be in the form of National Rail vouchers. But is this a cop-out?
Now the trouble with train vouchers is that they tie you in to spending your ‘compensation’ on further train journeys – not always a pleasant prospect. I imagine those stuck on the First Great Western service for 11 hours earlier this month aren’t desperate to get back on a train any time soon.
These vouchers can only be redeemed in person at a ticket office, and have an expiry date. This means you have to go out of your way to buy your tickets, and if you don’t travel frequently, they’re not the most helpful method of refund.
Compensation for train delays
And it seems you agree. Which? Conversation commenter Rarrar says:
‘I have a reasonable amount of money in the form of National Rail vouchers received as compensation for late or cancelled trains. The only way I can redeem these is by buying tickets at a station ticket office, besides the cost and inconvenience of a 50 mile trip to do this at our local mainline station I can never be sure if the ticket office will be open or not.’
I recently had two train journeys where I was forced to buy a new ticket due to problems with the train I was meant to be travelling on. When I wrote to ask for a refund, I was promptly sent an apology and some National Rail vouchers. As the extra tickets had set me back nearly £100 – which I never intended to spend on train journeys – I was pretty miffed.
I wasn’t planning to travel again by train in the near future, and these unbudgeted-for expenses pushed me into overdraft territory, something a cash refund would go some way to fix.
Follow through with your complaint
We’re working to change the way we are compensated for problematic train journeys. We think you should be reimbursed in the manner in which you paid. Don’t you?
In the meantime, I’ve found that persistence can pay off. If you complain about receiving vouchers and ask for a refund instead (best of all, state this specifically when you put in your claim), some train companies may oblige. Be explicit about what you want, and why train vouchers don’t cut it, and you may be able to get your money back.
Are you happy with train vouchers when things go wrong? Have you had success challenging train companies on this?