How to claim a refund on your train tickets


Updated on 15 August 2012 | 8 Comments

If your train is late, you are entitled to complain and get some compensation.

If you’ve ever seethed after being told the train you’re waiting for has been delayed or cancelled, you’re certainly not alone. But while annoying, delays are just part and parcel of rail travel, aren’t they?

Well, we may accept them, but train companies view things slightly differently. Did you realise they receive financial compensation from Network Rail (which maintains lines, signalling and stations) every time the infrastructure causes disruption?

£184 million paid to train operators

Indeed, train operators received a whopping £184 million in compensation by Network Rail last year for avoidable delays.

But how much of that cash found its way into passenger pockets?

Just £15 million paid to passengers

According to figures obtained from the Department of Transport by the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) an average of £650,000 was then handed out to customers, per company. Applying this to all 23 passenger firms would add up to less than £15m.

That’s just 8% of the £184 million they received. Yikes.

Surely as the ones suffering from the delays any compensation should be going to us, the passengers?

Claim, Claim, Claim!

Unfortunately, while the operators receive their compensation automatically, we passengers have to claim for our share, ourselves. If we don’t claim, we receive nothing.

Most train operators require an online form to be completed, tickets submitted, and use a Delay Repay system so that season ticket holders as well as daily ticket holders can claim in the same way.

What’s a delay?

So what constitutes a ‘delay’? Well, here are some of the main train operators and their conditions. The second, third and fourth columns cover the percentage compensation which can be claimed in each instance:

Train Operators and their Conditions of Compensation

Train Operator

30-59 minutes late

60-119 minutes late

120 minutes + late

Arriva Trains

Contact Arriva trains with individual claims

Contact Arriva trains with individual claims

Contact Arriva trains with individual claims

C2C

N/A

50% of single ticket, or return ticket portion

50% of single ticket, or return ticket portion

Chiltern Railways

50% of single ticket, or return ticket portion

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

Cross Country

50% of single ticket, or return ticket portion

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

100% of single ticket;

100% of return ticket (i.e. both ways)

East Coast

50% of single ticket, or return ticket portion

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

100% of single ticket;

100% of return ticket (i.e. both ways)

East Midlands

50% of single ticket, or return ticket portion

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

100% of single ticket;

100% of return ticket (i.e. both ways)

Eurostar

N/A

Claim either discounted/complimentary tickets or a partial refund.

Free one-way journey, or 50% discount on a return journey.

Or 25% of one-way fare, or 12.5% of return fare.

Free return journey.

Or 50% of a one-way ticket/25% of a return ticket.

Delay of 300mins+ given a free return journey, plus a refund of single ticket or 50% of return ticket.

First Capital Connect

50% of single ticket, or return ticket portion

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

100% of single ticket;

100% of return ticket (i.e. both ways)

First Great Western

Can claim only if journey is for one hour or less.

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

First ScotRail

50% of single ticket, or return ticket portion

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

Greater Anglia

50% of single ticket, or return ticket portion

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

Hull Trains

Contact Hull trains with individual claims

Contact Hull trains with individual claims

Contact Hull trains with individual claims

London Midland

50% of single ticket, or return ticket portion

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

100% of single ticket;

100% of return ticket (i.e. both ways)

Northern Rail

N/A

Contact Northern Rail with individual claims

Contact Northern Rail with individual claims

South Eastern

50% of single ticket, or return ticket portion

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

100% of single ticket;

100% of return ticket (i.e. both ways)

South West Trains

The full cost of a single ticket, on Island Line trains only.

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

100% of single ticket; 50% of a return ticket

Virgin Trains

N/A

25% of the total fare paid for the affected portion (outward/return) of the journey.

Full price paid for the affected portion (outward/return) of the journey.

As you can see, payments can vary widely between operators. But in general, most delays over 30 minutes warrant some form of compensation, which is typically paid within 28 days in the form of National Rail vouchers.

Things to remember when claiming

So if you’ve suffered with train delays, remember:

  1. If you’ve been delayed by 30 minutes+, you may be able to claim compensation. Exact details should be in your train operator’s Passenger Charter.
  2. Most claims must be made within 28 days.
  3. Unavoidable delays include vandalism, trespass and severe weather conditions and will not be compensated for.
  4. If you’d prefer cash to rail vouchers, tell your train company. It doesn’t have to comply with your wishes, but it might.
  5. In extreme situations you may be able to claim for taxi fares or overnight accommodation accrued by the train delay.

Finally, if you aren’t happy with the way the train company has dealt with your claim, contact Passenger Focus or London Travel Watch. And you can find out more about your rights from Citizens Advice.

Until a better solution is reached that automatically compensates us when we suffer train delays, it’s up to us – so take the time and make your claim!

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