/ Travel & Leisure

Is it fair that your travel rights are being delayed?

second class

Bank holidays are great for getting an extra day in to visit family and friends. But travelling can be chaotic. And to make matters worse, improvements to your travel rights have been delayed … again.

After the trauma of travelling over the Easter bank holiday, I’m not sure I can face it this weekend. My journey from Newcastle to London was due to take three hours. ‘Great – I’ll be home in time for a relaxing evening’ – I thought to myself. Not so.

I arrived home just before midnight – a whole eight and a half hours later, having had my train cancelled with no advice on how to continue South, and enduring a long wait on a packed platform, a sprint to catch another train, a diversion via Manchester and the remainder of my journey spent perching on bag filled luggage rack. Fed up didn’t quite cover it.

Notably, not once on this ordeal was passengers’ right to a refund mentioned.

Further passenger rights delayed

Earlier this month, while Parliament was on recess, the Government slipped out the news that they were extending the exclusion for rail, bus, air and maritime passengers from the Consumer Rights Act 2015 for a further 6 months … with additional plans to seek a further exemption for rail passengers up until October 2017.

This isn’t good enough. When faced with a shoddy service, rail passengers shouldn’t be second class citizens. They should have the same rights consumers have in other sectors.

Not only does this give rail companies a free pass for how they treat their passengers, it also undermines the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) recommendations outlined in their response to our super-complaint.

The ORR called for improvements to passenger compensation arrangements by October 2016 – certainly no suggestion to delay improving passenger rights in their response.

We’re concerned that the process used by the Government to try delaying passenger rights is a little sneaky. So we’ve laid out our concerns over the lack of parliamentary scrutiny in a letter to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, who investigated and rebuked Ministers in their report published this week.

Given the Government’s plans and actions, it looks like passengers will be missing out once again. And despite the rail regulator’s own recommendations.

Improvements needed

Be it a bank holiday or any other day of the year rail passengers deserve to be treated better. I witnessed it first hand with my eight and a half hour delay. Improvements are needed.

So we’ll be continuing to raise our concerns in Parliament oppose these changes and push for rail passengers to be given the rights they deserve.

What about you then, are you braving bank holiday rail travel this weekend? Or, like me, are you staying put and avoiding the travel chaos?


It is a sad fact of life that, on any popular travel day, there is not enough room on trains and not enough space on the roads. It is almost inevitable that one will be part of a rail cattle truck or endure endless queues on jammed motorways. It also seems that we are having more accidents these days. I can’t prove this, but every travel bulletin I hear has an accident somewhere in the mix. Alternate routes have been ruined by speed humps, potholes and endless speed restrictions on roads that were unlimited in the past. Do we blame motorists who refuse to obey the law or the nanny state, or both? From that diversion to the topic in hand. It would be really good if train travellers received compensation for nightmare journeys described above, but until we spend a vast amount of money on the infrastructure these journeys will be with us when too many people want to travel at the same time. The only way round is for the train companies to insist on pre-booking travel and ending that booking when all the seats are taken. Gone, then would be the idea of going to a station and catching a train when we feel like it. It would also mean that those without a ticket would not travel and hit the roads instead. No easy answers. If train companies can not guarantee travel they should not offer it. On the occasions when something breaks down unexpectedly, they should compensate travellers by a great deal more than the fare paid.

Hi Vynor, , ,It’s obvious you’ve had a bad journey. . .Most of us have been there etc
Suffering from poor health has had it’s benefits and this is one of them
We get to keep our motorhome parked at Easter and all the Bank Holidays plus our bonkers two weeks in July here
What piece. . . .Everyone else is trying to get away and no one to bother us sitting at home and when it’s all over away we go. . .Of course if we can get anyone to look in on Granda. . .Always a down side to everything it seems
Lets hope you enjoy your weekend more than the journey

Booking your transpot does not guarantee a seat; we know from experience and Which? that airlines deliberately overbook to allow, they say, for no shows. This would inevitably happen on peak trains. So do we want non-refundable tickets (quite an incentive to make sure all take up their booking)? If not, then there may not be room, or adequate seating.

Jane, you don’t mention why your train was cancelled. There can be quite legitimate reasons. But there should be information on how to then best get to your destination, without the need for the interweb and a smart phone.

From time immemorial Bank Holiday travel has been a nightmare whether by public or private transport. You know what you are might be in for. It should be avoided at all costs, if possible.

Yesterday – Bank Holiday Monday – showed the common sense of many. I visited my local tip (recycling centre) open as usual. But unlike most days it was awash with people who’d been clearing houses, gardens, sheds – – using their brief holiday usefully instead of sitting in a traffic jam. Ah, but having said that there was a queue a queue of cars on the road in both directions waiting to enter the site – at least 3 in each direction – so even tips are not immune to Bank Holiday delays..

This is what we have descended to. We’re people who (have to) spend that one day of extra leisure – in going to the tip.

I always take a view not to travel on Bank Holiday weekends is a smart way to avoid travel problems. I do therefore have little sympathy with people that do travel then and subsequently complain.

Similarly people who decide to live miles from work forcing them to become commuters, and then travelling at peak time.

Charities I have noted pay around £5000 extra for junior London staff compared to Bristol so we, as the public , perhaps need to exert more pressure on charities to move. There have been consistent polls that show the public are unimpressed with the need to be and costs for charities based in London.

I hear of some who travel from the West country to London. It certainly improves work life balance but it is expensive and time consuming. You would think these days with electronic communication many “desk” jobs could be done largely from home. I used to find working from home, on occasions, away from the constant and often unnecessary interruptions at work, far more productive, particularly when developing a new idea.

Just to illustrate the lunacy of Bank Holidays this from a local e-paper after a two car crash on the Purley Way.

“The issue presents a potential threat to customers’ safety, since in the case of a medical emergency, ambulances would be delayed, if not prevented, from getting into and then leaving the retail park.
As Inside Croydon‘s loyal reader said, in an email sent from their stationary vehicle: “At this moment loads of cars (feels like hundreds) are stuck in traffic trying to get out of Valley Park car park.
“We are gridlocked and have not moved for half hour. In total we have only moved the distance of five cars in an hour and a half. People have tried the traffic and security office, but it is closed because of the Bank Holiday.
“I feel trapped and know that if there was a problem, help would not be able to get here. Why is there not a second exit that can take the stress off the one exit?
“I saw that you wrote something similar in January. Nothing has changed. If anything, it’s possibly getting worse.”

We shouldn’t have to adapt i.e. choose not to travel on Bank Holidays – surely that’s what they’re about?? Getting out and going places further afield because it’s a long weekend! We have a strong rail network and they’re slowly getting better. But, I have to admit that over the years I have been avoiding travel on holiday weekends, principally because so much engineering work goes on then. Often as not choose to stay home – but I totally resent having to hold back – on my own behalf and on behalf of so many others.

It is a fact that more people want to travel or go out and about on bank holidays, and fewer people want to work – including those in travel. Therefore it is going to be slower and less convenient. Inescapable. There is no big resource of people at our beck and call just waiting to help the rest of us enjoy ourselves. No doubt many of them will want to visit relatives or go away to enjoy themselves as well. So we must accept what is a fact of life, perhaps.

K J Pyne says:
6 July 2016

I have waited over a month for Grand Central to pay up for unused tickets . I returned the tickets Recorded Delivery which was signed for at their end and with a covering letter and have yet to receive a reply. I have also emailed them to remind them which they also have not replied to. I have had the same problems with them over refunds for delayed trains.

Muna says:
2 August 2016

I avoid travel because of the delays in the southwest trains Portsmouth to Waterloo

Yesterday, I was supposed to be home at 10:30pm but after 3 hours and 20 min delay in freezing cold air conditioning and no information I managed to reach Fratton at 2am

Solution is easy
Emigrate to New Zealand
Slightly larger country than the UK only 4.5m population
You also get a real life style with decent weather

Tony Houghton says:
16 October 2016

It’s not just holiday dates that cause delays. Rail services fail to understand travel demands at any time.
My wife and I went to watch Aston Villa play on Saturday evening. 5.30 kick off. We were travelling back from Aston after the game just 5 strops on the Lichfield line out of Birmingham.
With a typical crowd of over 30,000 the return journey obviously meant that more people would catch trains after the game (maybe the rail authorities should consider this, but that would mean planning). No extra trains and no extra carriages meant that we had to wait one and a half hours and three trains before we were able to board one with room. This was a delay was directly of the rail companies own making. Compensation for such incompetence must be made available,

This is one of the areas where the train companies let passengers down badly. For predictable increases in passenger numbers they should be setting up additional timetable slots with Network Rail and hiring in additional trains to cater for the extra demand. In the days before ubiquitous personal transport, ‘special traffic’ was one of the things the public transport authorities did rather well. Perhaps the economics of track access and hired rolling stock just do not stack up nowadays. although I can’t believe the train company could not have augmented its regular timetable services in some way from within its own resources if every last available unit and train crew were pressed into service, especially given that it was a foreseeable event.

Most train companies also seem to have given up trying to run a decent service on Boxing Day. Although engineering works would prevent some services from running normally, the overwhelming majority of lines are open on what has become one of the most important sporting, shopping and leisure days of the year, as well as vital for visitors returning home after Christmas. The consequence is the greatly increased risk of injury or death on the roads. You would think that the business minister would be having a word with the railways minister to remedy this stupidity but such people are probably unaffected by the situation. Too late now, anyway – the population has gone on-line.