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New rules replace vouchers

Cash refunds for delayed rail passengers

rail delaysRail passengers whose trains are at least 30 minutes late are now able to claim a cash refund under new consumer protection rules.

Cash will replace vouchers as compensation after consumer groups complained that they could not be used online or to access cheap fares.

David Mapp, commercial director at the Association of Train Operating Companies, said the changes “underline the industry’s commitment to offering passengers an ever better deal.”

Each of the UK’s 28  rail companies deals with delays differently. Compensation varies among them but there is a minimum cash refund of about 20% of the cost of a single fare and 10% on a return fare.

If you have booked first class but there is no first class accommodation available (e.g. the train is busier due to a delay), you are entitled also to a refund of the difference in price between your first class ticket and a standard class ticket.

If a delay means that, for whatever reason, your seat reservation is not honoured, you may be able to get something back.

If your train is delayed and you decide not to travel, the NCC rules say you must get a full refund. If you do travel, however, then the amount you will receive is up to your operator (and will be stated in its passenger charter).

Claims must be submitted within 28 days of the delay.

According to the Office of Rail Regulation, more than three-quarters of passengers still are unaware of their rights. Passenger group Transport Focus said almost 90% of still do not claim refunds when their trains are delayed despite it being among the biggest complaints.

The rules

The National Conditions of Carriage say that the following are deemed to be within a train company’s control (i.e. you will have a guaranteed right to compensation for delays of more than 30 minutes):

  • Points failure
  • Signal failure
  • Track circuit failure
  • Telecoms failure
  • Overhead line problems
  • Buckled or broken railway tracks.

Things out-with an operator’s control include:

  • Acts vandalism
  • Threats of terrorism
  • Suicides or accidents involving trespassers
  • Gas leaks or fires in line-side buildings
  • Line closures requested by the emergency services
  • Exceptional weather conditions (though this is a grey area)
  • Riots or civil unrest
  • Fire, mechanical or electrical failure (except if caused by a train operator, its staff, or the condition of its trains).

More information is available here:



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