Rail passengers claiming compensation almost trebles but more needs to be done says Transport Focus

17 November 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review

The number of rail passengers claiming compensation owed has almost trebled since 2013. However, significant improvement is still needed to make the process more open to passengers says Transport Focus.

Rail passengers claiming compensation almost trebles but more needs to be done says Transport Focus

A survey of over 7000 passengers, carried out by independent watchdog Transport Focus, has found the number of passengers claiming compensation for delays or cancelations has increased from 12 percent to 35 percent since 2013. Almost £45 million was paid out to successful claimants in 2015 to 2016. However, Transport Focus research found that two thirds of passengers eligible for compensation did not claim for their most recent train delay.

Passengers claiming compensation increased from 12-35 percent since 2013

Furthermore, 57 percent of eligible passengers weren’t aware they could claim compensation or didn’t think about it and 38 percent of passengers were satisfied with the train company alerting them to their right to claim compensation.

The research was delivered in partnership with the Department for Transport and the Office of Rail and Road.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “The rail industry has made some improvements in telling passengers what they are due after delays – but they still have a way to go. Another obstacle is the perceived effort involved in claiming.

“The Government has lowered the Delay Repay level to 15 minutes starting on Southern services first. Train companies now need to do more to make it easier for passengers to claim.”

Commenting on the research findings, Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “We are determined to ensure passengers are confident in the service and value they will get if they choose to travel by rail. Of course, we must constantly strive to improve punctuality but if things go wrong, passengers need to know that they will be compensated fairly.

“We have been working with partners in the rail industry to ensure passengers are aware of their right to recompense for disruption and, at the same time, we are making the claim process simpler and swifter so that it is easier and more attractive to apply.”

On 13 October 2016, Government announced Delay Repay 15 – a new rail compensation scheme allowing passengers to claim if their train is delayed by more than 15 minutes. Under the scheme, passengers will be able to claim 25 percent of the cost of a single fare for delays between 15 and 29 minutes.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators, said: “Everyone in the railway wants trains to run on time and when things go wrong we want to put them right.  Train companies are raising passengers’ awareness of their compensation rights, making it easier to claim money back and paying out more to delayed passengers.

“Passengers are getting an even better deal with improved rights and new arrangements for getting money back. Train companies already pay compensation in cash and passengers can now be refunded by the same method they paid to travel if they wish. Improved online claiming means train companies now offer at least two types of cash refund.”

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