/ Travel & Leisure

Will you be attempting to travel by train this Easter?

train travel

With more than 20 million cars expected on the roads and over 200 rail engineering works taking place this Easter, if you’re looking to get away this weekend, expect things to be busy…

In the run-up to the last Easter bank holiday, I spent a good deal of time and energy stressing about how I was going to get from where I live in London to my parents’ house in the North East.

Would it be better to drive, take the train, or even fly?

Weighing up the options, the main thing that crossed my mind was the sense that it would be a total nightmare – I’d be caught in travel chaos whichever form of transport I chose. According to the tabloids, Armageddon awaits anyone who dares to venture outside their own front door.

Rail fail

Too often, rather than being a glorious four-day weekend that sees you setting out across the rolling green of Britain to see family or friends, our bank holidays end up in travel hell.

And if you’re travelling by rail, this feels particularly like it’s the case, with 50.9 million passenger journeys either cancelled or significantly late in the past 12 months.

This weekend alone, there will be more than 200 rail engineering works taking place. So, if things do go wrong on your train journey, can you expect the company you’re travelling with to do enough to help put it right?

Well, we’d all like to think so – especially so when our Easter plans rely on a working train network! Sadly, our railways are plagued by delays, cancellations, overcrowding and poor train conditions – and that is exactly why we’re campaigning to demand better rail services.

In our latest surveys, only 17% of leisure travellers who’ve been delayed remembered their train operator informing them of their right to compensation as a result of a delay.

And we’ve found that only a third (33%) of passengers who may have been entitled to compensation said they actually made a claim.

The main reasons cited by those who chose not to make one was that they didn’t know how, or thought it was too difficult and/or time-consuming.

Of those passengers that did make a claim, one in five reported that they found doing so difficult.

Consumer rights

Of course, we hope that things don’t go wrong for any of you travelling by rail this weekend, but if they do, remember you have a number of important rights.

In October 2016 we hailed a ‘win’ for rail passengers as the Consumer Rights Act was extended to cover rail travel. This means that your train company must provide you a service with ‘reasonable care and skill’ and any written or verbal information is binding if you’ve relied on it for your plans.

If you do get delayed, be sure to claim compensation, our rail compensation tool can help you make a claim. By claiming you’re helping to keep up the pressure on train companies to improve their services.

If your train company is signed up to the Delay Repay scheme, you may be able to claim 50% of the ticket cost back if your train half an hour late, and the full price if it’s delayed by over an hour.

So will you be taking the train anywhere this Easter weekend? Are you concerned about being delayed at all? If you were delayed on a train would you claim compensation?


‘Will you be attempting to travel by train this Easter?’ – Yes! Off home to the Forest (New) on South West Trains. I’m not looking forward to the rush and desperately I won’t have to stand for the best part of 2hours. I’ve had to do that and it’s not fun.

As far as delays, I’m leaving from Waterloo so that is definitely a possibility and I’ll return to share my ‘train hell’ if it transpires that way…


So far so good. I even have a seat with a table. Running on ⌚


Train journeys are a good time to catch up with Which? Convo, especially when others are not very talkative.


Seems to me that when you have over-demand for a service you either charge more for it to regulate demand or it goes to pot as you do not have the capacity to service abnormal demands.

What bugs me is why people choose to travel at Easter at all. And then demand sympathy if there are problems. I cannot recall anytime in the last two decades that I have travelled over a holiday other than when cruising. It may well be longer than two decades.

Incidentally the benefits of being able to claim for late running trains to me seems to be a sticking plaster to a patient whilst a hospital collapses around them from bad organisation and insufficient investment. But it is populist and who needs or should think long-term. As far as I see it we could enter a vicious spiral were compensation decreases income , decreases investment and worsens the service.

The interesting thing is that if the operating companies find it unprofitable and the cap on pricing stays then they would hand the franchises back to the government. Long term nationalisation! of a strategic resource.??


People like to go home and be with their families at Easter, Patrick. At least that’s what I’m doing. It’s nice to be out of London and in the New Forest.

The team ticket for an hour and 45min was £50 – I could fly to a city in Europe for less 😉


Patrick old chap, when a service or facility is oversubscribed, we British just form a jolly old queue and wait for our turn.

May of our road users will be familiar with this concept, not least those who, at peak times or holidays, use the Cirencester to Gloucester dual cabbageway (A417) or any of our other linear car parks (aka “Motorways”) .


Patrick S’s concerns seemed to be mainly to do with possible overcrowding rather than disruption due to engineering work so, as he managed to bag himself a seat with a table [and hopefully with free wi-fi and a power socket], I hope he had a pleasant journey. It might have been possible to get a cheaper fare with advance booking but surely he bought a return ticket so is getting three-and-a-half hours of pleasant train travel for his £50. Of course he could have flown from an airport within an hour of London to another one a similar timescale from a continental city for the same price but he wanted to be with his family and there is a price on that. I doubt he will be out of pocket in the end and he might have saved time overall. Perhaps he would have preferred the security checks that come with air travel?


Public holidays concentrate a need for high volume travel. Those who travel know that, so why complain about it – they are the ones causing the congestion. Take a day’s holiday and beat the crowds.


I have never before seen so much advance publicity about the railway engineering works taking place over the Easter weekend. Big adverts in local papers, posters and leaflets in stations, outdoor advertising at bus stops and elsewhere. Everyone who travels should be aware of the possible disruption. The notices about engineering work at stations make it clear that where necessary a railway replacement bus service will operate or the train will take a diversionary route and approximate estimates of extended journey times are given. I hope compensation claims will be moderated if these conditions are met by the train operator.

Although 200 engineering operations will be carried out over this weekend the result will not be so extreme as is being made out. Some of them are overnight and will have little affect on daytime services, some are part of continuing operations that are subject to emergency timetables or cancellations anyway, and most of them have been planned so that if a main line is closed as much separate engineering work as possible is carried out along that line at the same time thus containing the disruption and reducing future impacts. Wherever possible alternative main-line routes are clear of disruption, so that, for example, between Norwich and London the direct route to London Liverpool Street is partially blocked [with rail replacement bus services] but the alternative route to London King’s Cross and the secondary route to London Liverpool Street via Bishops Stortford are both running [with amended timetables]; both require a change at Cambridge and journey times will be longer than on the direct main line but rail travel remains viable.

Until a few years ago, rail travel on Good Friday was very limited and a Sunday timetable was operated. In most cases now the Saturday timetable is operated because demand is similar and travel is popular because off-peak fares are available on earlier trains [a benefit not mentioned in the Intro!].


Essential maintenance work is carried out at holiday times to avoid disruption to commuters when we’re all going to work – so I understand. It has to be done at sometime. “Journey times will be longer”; we are seemingly obsessed with time. Does it really matter if we take an extra half hour or so to reach our destination on a holiday? Plan for it and read another couple of chapters. In many cases it seems a matter of principle to complain if something goes a little wrong. A culture I don’t like. We all of us foul up in our jobs at some times; do we relish someone sitting on our shoulder ready to pounce and penalise us, or do we learn from it and do better next time?

Patrick Taylor says:
14 April 2017

I was going to sign the petition as included in the Conversation:
” Sign our petition to demand better rail services” but as it does not explain what “better” entails it seems we are being asked to sign a blank cheque.

Anyway I persevered and looking further found a link and this is the statement:
” Take the rail industry to task and demand a better service

Our railways are plagued by delays, cancellations, constant overcrowding and hideous train conditions. Passengers are also paying more than ever but still arriving at their destination late and frustrated. It’s unacceptable. We deserve trains that run for passengers, not just the rail industry. Sign our petition to demand better rail services.”

So the actual petition site really goes no further forward in suggesting solutions just some more stating the obvious problems and asking for a signature . My memory may be faulty but i did understand what the Consumers’ Association “Carbusters” campaign was about – a campaign with good specific aims and a mechanism for improving matters.

Perhaps Which? could do something more specific but relevant like campaigning against excessive salaries, particularly charity executives and poor governance.


Which? seems to just stop at petitions with “something must be done” – but no proposals as to what. That seems like either a lack of knowledge, lack of expertise to pursue a constructive investigation, or just headline-grabbing in a lazy way. We have a “Whirlpool must recall all defective driers” – exactly how and what will be achieved?

Come on Which? People in these Convos try to make positive suggestions as to how we can improve pollution from cars, make energy prices fairer, establish a product recall system that might work, deal with unarranged overdrafts………….. Isn’t it time you took some notice and did more groundwork to formulate realistic and constructive approaches to some of these consumer problems? Or get contributors to work with you and tap into their experience? Something must be done…………………….:-)