Today, the government has announced that it will roll out ‘one-click’ compensation across the rail network. It’s a welcome step forward, but we’re calling for more.
Three years ago, we submitted a super-complaint to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), focusing on the difficulties that people face in getting compensation from train companies.
Our research found that most passengers who were eligible to claim compensation didn’t do so. Too many people were unaware of their rights or found the entire process too lengthy and complex.
Nearly three years on, figures show that the number of passengers claiming compensation for delays and cancellations is still unacceptably low. Only 39% of those who are eligible to claim for a delay of 30 minutes or more actually do, up only 4% from two years ago.
What’s more, just 28% of eligible passengers were even aware that they could make a claim in the first place.
We’ve heard from thousands of passengers who have told us about their train pain and their stories clearly demonstrate why trust in the sector remains chronically low.
Obstacles to compensation
From being blocked on social media for complaining to their train company, being reported for fraud after making multiple claims, and having to navigate the complex and inconsistent claims process, passengers are too often faced with unnecessary obstacles when they try to make a claim.
After months of delays and cancellations across the network, it is clear that more needs to be done to make claiming easier and to help passengers get the compensation that they are owed.
While this announcement from the government doesn’t go all the way to ensuring that the compensation system is fully automated, it is an important step in making the process simpler, more accessible and less confusing for passengers.
Some train companies, such as Northern and Virgin, already offer ‘one-click’ compensation to certain passengers and it’s about time the rest of the network caught up. All train companies should ensure that passengers are notified when they are eligible to claim for a delayed or cancelled service.
Last month, the government announced that it will launch a wide-ranging review of the sector looking at everything from franchising to passenger experience and customer service. An ombudsman to deal with complaints is also due next month.
Clearly fundamental changes are needed to get rail back on track, but as a bare minimum the government must introduce automatic compensation for delays and cancellations for passengers suffering from unreliable services.
Have you tried to claim compensation? Would a simplified claims process help you get the money back you’re entitled to?