/ Travel & Leisure

Update: Win! New rail passenger rights announced

Rail passengers

The 1 October marks the first anniversary of the Consumer Rights Act coming into force in most sectors. Most sectors, but not all: rail, air and sea travel were excluded from the Act. That is until now…

Following some extensive Which? campaigning we saw a change of heart from the Government with an extension of the Consumer Rights Act to also include the rail sector. On 1 October air, sea and rail travel sectors will have to fully comply with the Act.

Update: 1 October 2016, Consumer Rights Act comes into force for all travel sectors

It’s finally here, the Consumer Rights Act is now in force for rail, air and maritime travel.

Following Which? campaigning you now have new consumer rights to cover you when you travel. Your rights are now far stronger and standardised when it comes to claiming compensation for poor service and disruption. Importantly, all rail passengers could now be eligible for compensation if they feel the service they have received falls way below the standard expected.

If your service hasn’t been delivered with reasonable care and skill you may be able to claim compensation. Our free tool can help you claim compensation for a train, coach or ferry journey that’s been provided without reasonable care and skill.

We’ll now be keeping a close eye on train companies and looking at taking further action to test out your new rights if train companies are found to be letting you down.

Second rate rights for rail passengers

The Government was seeking to delay new rights for rail passengers until October 2017. During the Consumer Rights Act’s passage through Parliament, the Government made it clear that it wanted to permanently exclude passengers from some of the rights available under the new legislation.

We were dismayed that passengers were being put so firmly at the back of the queue.

Then in April this year, we saw the first softening in the Government’s position with the lifting of the exclusion for air and sea travel. Rights in these sectors are due to come into effect from the 1 October this year.

But there was a sting in the tail – while the Government agreed the legislation should eventually come into effect for the rail sector, it still wanted to delay this until October 2017.

We believe this would have been a mistake, leaving millions of suffering rail passengers and the Government wasn’t putting passengers first.

Rail campaign

As you can expect, we collected your stories and made our views known to Ministers and officials at the Department of Transport, and raised our concerns in Parliament.

Thanks to your support, the near 45,000 people who’ve so far backed our campaign to Make Rail Refunds Easier, and the many MPs and Peers who helped champion the cause, the Government has changed its mind, again.

On 1 October the rail sector will now have to fully comply with the Consumer Rights Act.

The Government wrote to MPs and Peers, and the Transport Select Committee (PDF) to announce they had withdrawn the regulations that were due to be voted on next week that would have delayed the implementation of the Consumer Rights Act for rail for another year.

Rail Minister, Paul Maynard, said passengers who are unhappy with their compensation, which currently varies between operators, will be able to pursue their claim through the courts if they fail to resolve the issue with the train company.

This is good news for rail passengers. In a little over three weeks all rail passengers will be entitled to have their compensation paid within 14 days. Compensation will be issued by the same method the passenger paid with, rather than with vouchers that some train companies currently use.

Passengers will also be entitled to payment for additional consequential losses, such as missed connections, and will be able to claim for any length of delay.

Consumer Rights for rail

So, we want to hear from you how will the change to rail passenger rights affect you? Have you any rail travel horror stories to share with us?

*We’ll be at Birmingham New Street station on Sunday 2nd October from 1pm and Monday 3rd October between 7.30-10am. Come and have a chat with us about your new rail rights and share your train horror stories.


In case its not mentioned anywhere else Megatrain (which is part oft he Stagecoach group and sells cheap tickets from their TOCs) refuses to pay compensation for any delays. Will they be covered under this change?

Babs says:
9 October 2016

I could not see Scotrail on the list….

. . . . perhaps their trains are never late!

I travelled on Crosscountry train from Southampton to Birmingham last week. I am only 5ft 3 and my knees were touching the back of the seat in front of me. I paid in advance for my ticket and reserved a seat. I could not believe how tightly packed the seats were. I would have been badly injured if a crash had occurred. I am glad I do not use the train often. I cannot understand why regular train users put up with these conditions. Many passengers were standing for over an hour on their journey.

Comment automatically duplicated !?!

I have always considered CrossCountry trains to be very poorly designed for the kind of services they are used for. A lot of people make quite long-distance journeys on them and use them to start holidays at resorts and ports yet there is very little luggage space, the seats are tightly packed, and the comfort level is no better than a suburban commuter train. They are frequently over-crowded with people standing in the aisle making conditions even more disagreeable.

On the question of crash safety, you are probably less at risk of serious injury in tight seating than with more legroom because the body continues travelling at the speed of the train on impact until it meets firm resistance and the less space there is for arms, legs, and head to fly about in all directions the better. Nevertheless, that is no justification for inadequate seat spacing because there are other and better ways to protect people from serious injury than compression into the seat in front. Fortunately, such incidents very rarely happen on UK railways.