/ Money, Travel & Leisure

We’ve launched a campaign to make rail refunds easier

Train tickets

We’re tackling the issue of rail compensation head on by using our legal powers to submit a super-complaint to the Office of Rail and Road. We’re asking for rail refunds to be made clearer and easier for passengers.

Be it leaves on the line, the wrong kind of snow or a missing driver, train delays are an unwelcome feature of many train journeys. Sometimes, despite the frustration of a delay I almost have to laugh at the excuse given.

Train delays

But what isn’t a laughing matter is that passengers are regularly being put out and yet unclaimed compensation for delayed and cancelled train journeys is running in to millions of pounds each year.

That’s why we’ve submitted our super-complaint to the regulator and are asking for rail refunds to be made easier.

The latest figures show that 47 million passenger journeys were cancelled or significantly late in one year.

Yet our survey of almost 7,000 passengers found that only a third of passengers who may have been entitled to compensation made a claim. The fact that only 36% of those surveyed were informed of their rights after their last delay highlights why claiming levels are so low.

What’s the solution?

Train companies could easily make passengers aware of their rights when they’re delayed, and make the system easier too. Just the other week my parents were on a delayed train and yet there was no announcement about their entitlement to compensation. They asked the conductor for a refund form which duly appeared, but contained out of date and incorrect information about what they were entitled to.

If passengers waited for automatic compensation for delays to be rolled out, it would take until at least 2025 to cover the whole network. To get the system back on track we want clear information on how to get a refund for rail delays, with all train companies offering cash as the first option for compensation and for them to be held to account if they fail to encourage passengers to claim refunds.

Have you ever suffered from delayed or cancelled trains? Were you clear on your rights to claim compensation? Did you make a claim?

Patrick says:
21 December 2015

Is not just late claims that are difficult but also season ticket refunds. Currently struggling to get over £1000 back from Southern train company – and they have made it a nightmare.

John Hampson says:
21 December 2015

I have an annual ticket Brighton-London. The Delay Repay scheme operated by Southern is not user friendly. Moreover, i suspect that train operators like Southern may receive more in compensation for delays – say, from Network Rail – than they pay out to the travelling public. I put in a Freedom of Information request along these lines two or three years ago. Private companies like Southern are not subject to FoI requests, while the Department for Transport declined to provide the information on the grounds that it was commercially sensitive.


Basically Network Rail pay out Schedule 8 compensation to cover losses in *future* revenue due to delays. If you speak with the train companies … and we have … they are always keen to point out that this is supposed to be something totally different to compensation for the delay itself.


”TrainTrick Outreach
Born early in 2015. Now quickly growing up and working hard to make the lives of train passengers happier by automating train delay compensation!
#MakeARailDifference at traintrick.com ”

Reggie Renault says:
5 January 2016

As I understand it John, the TOCs (train operating companies) receive compensation from Network Rail when the train is late (i.e. 5 minutes or over later than the published arrival time) As you’ll know, the TOCs will only refund a passenger when the train is 30 mins or more late, therefore the TOCs are pocketing all the compensation payments for trains that are between 6 and 29 minutes late!


I heartily sympathise with you and other complainants on here. The whole problem is the American influenced privatising of our whole essential national infrastructure. Many people blame the EU for this “market levelling” approach but the whole policy reeks of American influence. Thank heaven’s I have now retired and when First Great Western mucked up and overcharged me on a rail journey I simply resolved never to use rail again and I haven’t. I walk, cycle, use only busses that are operated mostly correctly, coaches for long haul and our car. I have no need of rail now. When I last used rail regularly on business, it was state owned and although not perfect – the whole system seemed more reliable, better run, and affordable without all the deliberate deceit and deception used to maximise profits that you poor users have to put up with today . Most long haul trains had seats for all, had a restaurant that served affordable decent meals and was available to all without any extra charges. Now, we tax payers are subsidising the rail system whether we use it or not. I fail to see where the great advantage lies when many short haul airline and express coach tickets are cheaper than the rail equivalent. In addition, with rail use you have all the hassle, stress, humping luggage from one station to another and so on. Why bother? If the travelling public were to boycott the railways for a single month, they would create consternation among the well off elite who rule us and give a sharp lesson in people power. The rail companies would lose millions overnight and the resultant traffic congestion would bring the country to a standstill (don’t even get started about the extra pollution!!) Give it a try folks – it could be your best move yet!


I claimed a refund from Virgin East Coast for a 35min delay. It didn’t seem that tricky and I quickly received a £40 voucher which I have now used to travel on Transpennine. So the system works and will be even better now that the companies have agreed to pay compensation in cash rather than vouchers.
I can’t understand why people don’t claim.


Sometimes a delay is not a major problem, and if everyone claimed the cost of delays, rail fares would increase. I’m concerned by the growth of the so-called compensation culture.

I’m certainly not condoning poor management – where individuals should be given less responsible positions. Some delays can be for reasons that would be difficult or impossible to avoid.