/ Travel & Leisure

Update: win! Rail passengers will be able to claim for 15 minute delays

Delay Repay

Millions of delayed rail passengers will benefit from a change to ‘Delay Repay’ compensation, with the announcement of a threshold move to offer rail ticket refunds for journeys delayed by 15 minutes. Will this help you?

In a win for our Make Rail Refunds Easier campaign, today the government has announced that it will finally act on its promise to improve compensation for delayed rail passengers.

Soon rail passengers will be entitled to claim 25% of the cost of a single fare for delays between 15 and 29 minutes.

Delay Repay

The existing compensation scheme for delayed rail services, so-called ‘Delay Repay’, only allows compensation for delays over 30 minutes with passengers able to claim for 50% of the single fare for a delay 30 to 59 minutes.

This should be especially welcome news for Southern passengers, who will be one of the first to benefit from the new ‘Delay Repay 15’ scheme within the next few months.

Rail passengers deserve to get the service they pay for. We’ve long been calling for additional compensation for Southern passengers, so this is the very least they can expect following the poor service they’ve received from the train company – all the while issues on Southern services remain unresolved.

Delay Repay 15 will be rolled out in stages, after Southern the scheme will then be introduced on South Western, West Midlands and South Eastern franchises, followed by rest of the country.

However, it’s uncertain as to how long the roll out will take. The government is looking into opportunities to introduce the new scheme before franchises are renewed; this means that passengers may only be eligible for 15 minute delay claims from train companies that are currently part of the ‘Delay Repay’ system.

Rail ticket refunds for poor rail services

The pressure is now on train companies to give passengers clear information on how to claim for delays as well as for poor service, which passengers are now also entitled to claim for under the Consumer Rights Act. We’ve created a free tool for you to use to help you claim for a poor train service.

Update: 24 August 2017

As previously mentioned, Southern passengers were the first to get Delay Repay 15 back in December 2016. Well, Southern’s owner, Govia Thameslink Railways (GTR), has now gone one step further to ease the process of claiming compensation.

GTR will be the first rail franchise owner to give compensation for 15 minutes automatically. It has introduced a system that automatically compensates passengers using a ‘smartcard’ for delays of 15 minutes or more. Passengers traveling on Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick express will also benefit from this.

So where one leads, others must follow…

This is great news for the select number of passengers travelling with smartcards on GTR lines, but what about everyone else? Claiming compensation should be easy for passengers and consistent across all train lines so passengers know their rights no matter which train company they travel with.

Do you want other train operators to introduce auto-compensation for 15 minute delays? How often are you delayed when travelling by train?


I would be interested to know how much the rail companies are willing to give back to travelcard (weekly/monthly or annual) holders. There has to be a fair share refunded across all travelcard and ticket types and not just to day single/return tickets.

As I understand it, refunds are made by way of a price adjustment on renewal of the travelcard or season ticket. If the ticket is not going to be renewed it can be sent in for a refund. Bear in mind that travelcards and season tickets are already discounted products so I wouldn’t want to raise expectations!

I quite agree.
GWR has had an appalling year.
As season ticket holder I have had no refunds or Void Days.
The ticket pricing seems to depend on something called PMAA all very mysterious and Incomprehensible.
Can anyone explain what PMAA is
I am very very very angry and cross with GWR

Scotland too?

Kremmen says:
14 October 2016

Unless I’ve misread the t’s & c’s this new 15 minute compensation applies to single and return ticket purchases.
What about season ticket holders who can’t put their ticket in the post to prove validity.
15 minutes on Great Western during the evening peak would cost them a fortune as the signalling is forever going wrong, especially during this Crossrail work.

julie says:
17 October 2016

I never thought about this, your right iv’e re-read the T& C’s . This must apply to all train users. We all need to be somewhere when using a trai, the end result should be the same for all.

Yes, you are right to make this point. It is the season ticket holders who provide the companies with a set income, and they should be compensated too. The financial demands for lateness is supposed to be some sort of deterrent to encourage minimum delays, I expect, so this should urge the companies to make sure there are systems in place to make certain delays are minimal. We really don’t want to have to ask for compensation, because this means we are late for work, we don’t want to be late for work, or miss our connections, we want trains which run on time. If it is costing the companies not money at all for late trains, then there is no incentive to make it better.

You might not like to read this, but season ticket funded commuter travel is the most unprofitable part of the rail passenger market. As I have written above, so far as I am aware, pricing adjustments to season tickets are made on renewal based on the performance of the train company in the previous period taking account of the Public Performance Measure statistics which reflect delayed arrival times at destinations. This is far from perfect but is all there is at the moment. The new scheme should lead to automatic refunds to the ticket-holder’s bank account if they purchased their ticket on-line or using a debit or credit card at the station.

At Present as an annual season ticket holder travelling on South Eastern I can claim Delay Repay compensation like any other ticket holder. As far as I am aware the system of discounting renewed season tickets based on train company performance ended some years ago, it certainly has for my journeys. I think it would be very unfair to exclude Season Ticket holder from the new 15 minute delay compensation.

I agree with you, Mike. There is at present no consistency across the train operators over the terms and conditions of any compensation scheme they provide. I presume having a standard national scheme [especially for where two or more train companies share part of a route] will be one of the major benefits of this policy. Why it has taken so long to return to such a state of affairs beats me. When the railways were originally de-nationalised there was much talk by the government of preserving what were termed the ‘network benefits’ of a national system. Apart from a logo, some railcards, the design of the tickets, and some of the more abstruse and obscure national conditions of carriage, there aren’t many universal and consistent features left.

We were on a Scotrail sleeper from London to Inverness in July which broke down at Crewe and we had to dress and wait on the platform, in the middle of the night, for a morning train to take us to Edinburgh and then a further one to Inverness. Arrived home 7 hours late. Am still waiting for promised compensation! Is there a time limit on paying delay refunds?

Have you chased this up? What was the reason for all of this?

That’s terrible,,!!!

I have very rarely travelled by train.always found virgin travel very good. Rhyl to London.
the only time we did complain was on a journey from Cardiff to holy head.anglesea.
they wanted to end the journey at Chester.and we would of had to find a train to holy head.
passenger revolt.we refused to get off the train at Chester. They relented and the train went on to holy head.
Perhaps it was we went to be mucked about.Happy days.

Gerry says:
14 October 2016

The new system needs to make sure that it relates to passenger journeys, not just train movements.

Qualifying under the existing system seems to need evidence that you travelled on a single train that arrived 30 or more minutes after its scheduled arrival time. However, in reality a shorter delay may mean you miss a connection resulting in YOU being delayed by 30 minutes but no specific TRAIN triggering a 30 minute delay.

Similarly, I was on a coast bound train that made an unscheduled stop where it was announced that it was being diverted on a route that missed out my destination. No other advice was given. Many passengers therefore disembarked and caught a stopping train that left while the original train was still held in the platform. However, it appears that the original train then resumed its original route and its delay did not reach 30 minutes. Result: I was delayed by more than 30 minutes, but there was no Delay Repay !

Any automatic Delay Repay 15 system still needs to make it easy to claim for The Wrong Sort of Delay.

I travel on the Southeastern network and the service from Battle To London mainline stations it is shocking with alot of the trains I catch regularly late probably due to the refurbishment of London Bridge and associated areas It is a awful service that has “ground me down” over the years
The process of refunds until recently has been shoddy and time consuming and they have never really looked after passengers

Thanks for the great campaign so far. Shamed to say, I’ve only claimed once and I have a southern season ticket costing over £4,100 pa. problem being that when I’m late, I then don’t have time to make claim or record it for later. Automation of the system is the way forward. I’m looking forward to exploring the new tool. Thanks again.

But you will have to have a pre-booked reservation before you can claim compensation.
There will be no compensation if you buy a regular ticket on the day, expecting to travel on timetabled trains which then don’t run on time, which is what most people do.

Is that so, Peter? People whose journeys on a walk-up ticket have been delayed can claim under the present delay-repay schemes and what this new rule is doing is reducing the qualifying delay from 30 minutes to fifteen minutes. The ticket will show the time of purchase and a claim for a delay on the next train [or even one leaving the station in the subsequent hour] would be virtually indisputable. Only people who have bought a ticket on-line or have a season ticket and where their bank details have been recorded would be able to benefit from automatic reimbursement but other passengers could still claim a refund by filling in a form.

Jackie says:
15 October 2016

Of course all this will mean is that fares go up more to cover the cost and that there will be less chance that the railways will help people by holding the train departure for 30 seconds because a connection is tight, but any extra time could add up. The railways get complaints that a train has departed on time because the dosy passenger was on the platform and didn’t expect the train to leave correctly! There will also be new timetables issued so the rail companies get more of a buffer (meaning fewer trains!).


I think you’re right there. I have recent experiences from the Cambrian Cost Line of connecting trains being held to wait for delayed trains, so passengers would not miss their connections.

This is why people need to vote Labour in the next election and get Corbyn into power who has promised to renationalise the Railways and a lot of other utilities – bring them back under one ownership and it will also cost us a lot less as has been proved with the railways. Look at how £20 million was recently just given to Southern Rail – WTF?! Why I do not know, talk about a waste of taxpayer’s money. Shame on the corrupt conservatives.

And what a delightful line that is. On a recent holiday in Wales we took a day return from Machynlleth to Pwllheli, a lovely journey up the coast and back. Made even more enjoyable by the map provided by Cambrian Lines that showed all the sights to look out for. And for a bargain price – around £8 if I recall.

Kim – I don’t think the £20 million allocated to the Southern franchise area [not entirely to the Southern train operating company] is a waste of money at all. Much of it will be spent through Network Rail on track improvements and upgrades to improve the reliability of the system, enable higher speeds, and enhance capacity at key locations. Most Southern users will welcome that. In the overall scheme of things for the railways it’s a peanut.

The Labour Party’s policy is to nationalise the railways as each operating franchise comes up for renewal instead of exposing the service to competitive tenders – not just financial bids but service and quality improvements. They believe this is a cost-free way of doing it although there won’t be many major franchises coming up for renewal in the immediate period after 2020. However, franchising is a rolling programme and they could start small and build up to the big ones. That policy is OK if that is the sort of government the country wants next time round but no one has mentioned how the actual trains are going to be paid for. They are currently owned by private leasing companies and will not just fall into the government’s lap. It is possible that the existing rolling stock could continue to be funded by lease extensions covered by future revenues but new orders alone for delivery over the next few years probably total well in excess of £3 billion and most of this new stock is due to be manufactured in the UK. Changing things without putting jobs at risk would be a major challenge, but not impossible if the policy is considered to be of the highest priority.

Hilary Oughton says:
15 October 2016

I made two journeys from Plymouth to Paddington in the summer. Both arrived more than an hour late.
I sent a claim form and tickets to GWR and have had no response. How do I proceed in order to get refunds on both journeys?

There should also be a delay-repay scheme for late responses to compensation claims. Anything longer than 28 days should activate a double payment and then compounding at the same intervals thereafter.

This will end shooting us rail travelers in the foot. Train companies will extend journey times in the timetable so that there is slack they can take up if there are delays and can then arrive “on time”. (the airlines have been doing it for years). Don’t think the consumer groups have thought this one through properly.

I can see companies considering doing this with Inter-City and rural services. I’m not so sure about commuter services to and from busy stations where they have to fit in with other companies.

Padding out the timetable will reduce capacity and could be in breach of franchise agreements and, as RichP says, this will be difficult to do in busy urban areas where the timely presentation of trains at junctions is the only way to regulate the services. Since the timetable is controlled by Network Rail I would hope this dodge will not be permitted.

Phil says:
17 October 2016

Too late. It’s been going on for years. As punctuality is measured by the time a train reaches its final destination it’s quite common for padding to be added to the time allowed between the penultimate station and wherever the train terminates.

Phil says:
17 October 2016

That is correct on the longer distance services where timetables have been deliberately padded over the final section [and where arrival within ten minutes of the timetable time is considered to be ‘right time’ for the Public Performance Measurement statistics adding further tolerance] but in busy urban areas it is much more difficult to pad out the timetable for terminating trains because of the complexity of the schedule and inter-operation with other trains on the route. The PPM, which is not relevant to the delay-repay scheme, only allows five minutes for arrival time to count as ‘right time’ for short journeys and the penultimate station is often very close to the final station so the padding ploy will not work. Generally, due to the intensity of peak services, there are few opportunities to extend journey times for recovery purposes as the trains have to return to pick up another consignment of commuters to deliver to their destination. The commuter networks generally perform well on overall efficiency when there are no adverse factors in play.

The only way that the system will be fair is when the passenger has to pay for the journey at the completion of the journey not when commencing the journey on either bus or train. My suggestion is that, in the case of buses and trains, the (wannabe) passenger touches in (Oyster/contactless/Puffin/whatever) card and is transported to her/his destination and then touches out when disembarking. Those (have been) passengers who forget/thought they would get a freebie to touch out are charged with the full fare (i.e. as if paying in cash) for each journey with no limitation. The only exception to the foregoing would be for passengers issued with a Freedom Pass.

It’s about time too! It’s the smaller 15 – 25 minute delays that can cause problems (missed connections, etc.) but will the compensation payment be made quicker? I’ve been waiting 3 months for GWR to pay out on delays of 40 minutes on 2 train journeys!

why can’ t you be compensated for over crowding that has to be as important as trains being late what about the health and softy side the more you pack in the more die if there is an accident they have had it to easy for to long and ripped people off for to long

I live in the north west where the trains are run by Northern. The Trains are mostly not on time or cancelled. Many times there is no explanation why or for what reason.

The trains are mostly like bus trains and at peak times you are packed in like sardines, you cannot even answer your mobile, sit down or many times you are unable to move your arms.

you tell the staff and they do not even seem to be bothered.

it is like”I have a job and I started early, sod you matey

i was wondering if the compensation will include all rail travel like the london underground or the newcastle metro system?

I note that this change will be rolled out progressively across the UK over several years, presumably in line with franchise renewal or other significant changes in services.

Refunds are already available for delays of 15 minutes or more on London Underground’s Tube and DLR services [and Tube includes the sub-surface lines such as the District and Metropolitan]. The London Overground services are officially part of the National Rail system and the current refund qualifying period is 30 minutes or more, in line with most of the other National Rail franchises. This also applies to TfL Rail services [the precursor to Crossrail and currently terminating at London Liverpool Street]. London Overground and TfL/Crosssrail services should be incorporated in the new 15 minutes delay-repay scheme in due course, probably at the same time as parallel operators on the same route make the change. Logically, the Tyne & Wear Metro and Mersey Rail should also change to the new rules.

The problem with the scheme is that it is based upon arrival time at its destination, which usually has a good allowance built in, it takes no account of delays en route which is very important if you are catching a connection on another service.
I have experienced this so often at Reading, the company was nicknamed Last Late Western by many passengers, that I had to forcefully request a reroute via Paddington as my connection had left. After 6 weeks of this the guard would hide, just before Reading, when he knew I was on the train, just shows what a joke the service and the scheme was and probably still is.

I wish your survey took the Tube network into account for delays. Many an evening my son complains that he has long waits at peak times, yet the the recorded message always says there is a good service operating.

That is a fair point, Sue, but it is difficult to think of a way of compensating people who are delayed by the non-arrival of a non-timetabled Tube train, especially on a system that everyone knows operates with virtually unrestrained demand. But there is a delay-repay scheme for the Tube which provides a refund for any journey delayed by more than 15 minutes, and it would be interesting for your son to test it to see whether such a claim would be accepted. With a peak frequency of between 24 and 34 trains an hour on central sections of the deep-level Tube network I would expect any gap in the service of longer than 15 minutes to trigger a refund – the entry time to the station will be recorded on the ticket or Oyster card. However, it is perfectly correct to say that “a good service is operating” if all the trains are running but they are all full up, and the platforms are also full, so people cannot get on the next arriving train. This is probably unavoidable at peak times and is outside the control of the Underground as there are very clear and understandable limits on the capacity of the system that all commuters are aware of.

I have been travelling on East Coast for several years only once a year to look after my nieces cats in Grimsby, there has a distinct reduction in the times and on board service (1st class) last time train was almost 1/2 hr late on return to Edinburgh then was only served wrap no hot food being served only discovered only half the staff on board journalist sat opposite and interviewed Virgin admin staff who joined a bit later.