How to claim compensation for a cancelled or delayed train
There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting on a train going nowhere. But where do you stand if your train is delayed or even cancelled and you want to get your money back for your ticket? Everyday Legal has investigated how you can claim compensation if your journey hits the buffers…
When can I claim a full refund?
You are entitled to a full refund if:
- Your train is cancelled
- Your train is delayed and you decide not to travel
If you decide not to travel for a reason other than a delay then you can usually get a refund but there will be an administration fee (maximum £10). You may only get a part refund or even no refund if you ticket is reduced price or discounted (for example an Advance fare ticket).
How do I claim my refund?
Either take your ticket to any ticket office at the time you decide not to travel or return an unused ticket to the train company within 28 days
When can I claim compensation?
If your train is delayed and you decide to continue with your journey or your train is delayed whilst you are travelling you may be entitled to compensation.
Different train companies have different compensation schemes but the National Rail Conditions of Carriage sets out the minimum offered through the Passenger’s Charters although most operators pay more than that. You can read more about The National Rail Conditions of Carriage at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/static/documents/content/NRCOC.pdf
As a minimum, if you are one hour late at your destination you are entitled to:
- 20% of the price paid for a single ticket
- 10% of the price paid for a return ticket if the delay is only on one ‘leg’ of the journey
- 20% of the price paid for a return ticket if both ‘legs’ are delayed
Train companies consider claims on a case by case basis and under this minimum compensation you will only be able to claim if the train company was responsible for the delay or cancellation.
Examples of where the train company was responsible include engineering works, a defective train, a member of staff being unavailable etc.
Examples of where the train company was not responsible include vandalism on the line, exceptionally severe winds, where the emergency services close the line.
If the train company has given advance warning of engineering works and altered the timetable you would not normally be entitled to compensation.
How do I claim compensation?
You must ask for compensation – it isn’t given automatically. You can claim compensation ‘on the spot’ or by writing to the customer services department in the company. You can get details of how to claim from the ticket collector or from the station you bought your ticket from or the station you are travelling to.
- You must make your claim within 28 days of completing the journey
- Your claim must be accompanied by the ticket for the journey that you are seeking compensation for (as without this the train company cannot be sure your claim is genuine)
- Compensation is usually paid in rail vouchers which are valid for one year and on any operator’s routes (sometimes the operator will pay cash if requested)
- Most operators also offer an online claim process some also offer a postal process.
Delay / Repay
Many train companies also offer this compensation scheme. Under this scheme they will compensate you if your train is 30 minutes late and will pay more than the minimum level of compensation. You will also be able to claim compensation even if the company wasn’t responsible for the delay – for example vandalism on the line, exceptionally severe winds, where the emergency services close the line.
Each company sets their own compensation levels and you can find out about this from the train companies website in their Passenger’s Charter.
If you are a season ticket holder and there is a regular delay of less than 30 minutes it’s worth asking the train company about compensation but they don’t have to pay it.
Each train company has its own policy on this so you should check their Passenger’s Charter – you will find this on the company website. As a minimum, if you are one hour late at your destination you are entitled to 20% of the price of a weekly season ticket. Some companies offer compensation for delays of less than one hour.
Compensation for season tickets will either be paid under Delay / Repay (see above) or on Season Ticket Renewal Discounts.
Season Ticket Renewal Discounts
If the performance of the train company misses their targets then monthly and longer Season Ticket holders will receive an automatic discount upon ticket renewal regardless of whether or not they have been affected.
Can I claim for any other expenses due to my train being delayed or cancelled?
You may be able to claim a refund of a taxi fare if you’re stranded at a station due to a delayed train but you need to tell the duty manager at the station that you were going to take a taxi and give them the opportunity to find an alternative means for you to reach your destination. In exceptional circumstances claims for overnight accommodation may be considered.
Content correct at time of publication