Refunds for delayed trains. Obtain 100% refund in under 1 minute!
Last year, I took a train from Newcastle to London to stay with friends for the weekend. My fiancée and I were super excited to spend time with our friends, but we had another engagement on the Friday night. We therefore decided to get up at 5.30am on Saturday morning and travel down to London.
The train usually takes 3 hours. However, for reasons which were never explained to us, the train was delayed for 3 hours in total, including the nightmare of all travel – the dreaded replacement bus service!
We were fuming (and tired!!). We had left super early in the morning to spend more time with our friends and we were missing out on quality time because of the ineptitude of the train provider. We wanted compensation!
What we were surprised with was that we were ACTUALLY entitled to compensation for 100% of the price of our return ticket. And it was remarkably easy to obtain. If you’ve never done this, I will show you how.
Do people know their rights to refunds for delayed trains? No, they don’t.
A 2014 study by the Office of Rail Regulation showed that:
- Over 75% of rail passengers ‘do not know very much’ or ‘nothing at all’ about their rights to refunds for delayed trains or cancelled trains.
- Passengers believe that train operators could do more to promote compensation rights awareness – 74% of the study participants said that train companies do ‘not very much’ or ‘nothing at all’ to proactively provide information about refunds for delayed trains.
- Passengers also suggested more effective ways of raising awareness, such as prominently displayed compensation information on websites; posters at stations; information on the back on tickets; automated claims processes; and compensation in cash or vouchers that can be used online.
The key point I take away from this is that three quarters of rail passengers are unaware of their compensation rights regarding refunds for delayed trains.
What can I claim for a delayed train?
I would love to say that it was X% of a ticket price. Unfortunately, things are never that easy. However, I hope that the table below can quickly show you the compensation you can obtain for different delays for the UK train operators:
|Train Operator||30-59 minutes late||60-119 minutes late||120 minutes+ late|
|Arriva Trains Wales||20% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket|
|C2C||No compensation provided||50% of one-way ticket||50% of one-way ticket|
|Chiltern Railways||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket|
|Cross Country||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of return ticket|
|East Coast||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of return ticket|
|East Midlands||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of return ticket|
|First Capital Connect||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of return ticket|
|First Great Western||100% of one-way ticket (journey < 1 hour)||100% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket|
|First Hull Trains||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of return ticket|
|First ScotRail||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket|
|Greater Anglia||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket|
|London Midland||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of return ticket|
|Northern Rail||No compensation provided||50% of one-way ticket||50% of one-way ticket|
|Southern||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of return ticket|
|Southeastern||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of return ticket|
|South West Trains||100% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket|
|Virgin Trains||50% of one-way ticket||100% of one-way ticket||100% of return ticket|
Therefore, for my delay from Newcastle to London on East Coast, I was entitled to a full refund of my return ticket. Being a personal finance geek and watching every penny, I can’t tell you how quickly my frustration disappeared when I found out that I was travelling for free!!
How do I make a claim?
Again, this is not standard for all operators. But, it is usually much easier than people think it is going to be. Each train operator has a system called “delayrepay”. The beauty of this is that delayrepay has made the process much more aligned between train operators.
Notice how similar these two pages are. Submitting a claim is actually a fairly standard process and the majority (all but one or two smaller regional railways) provide the service of making a claim online.
Submit a claim in under 1 minute
Submitting a claim takes no time at all if you submit online. For example, for east coast, I only had to fill in one single form. This form contains personal information and the train departure information. Nothing complex, like the train chassis number, but just information you will know off the top of your head.
Even better, look at the final box! You only have to scan in a copy of your tickets. Therefore, you will have no postage costs when submitting a claim and this greatly speeds up the process of you obtaining your refund. In my example, I received my compensation within one week.
Using snail mail
However, if you wish, you can also submit your claim via traditional mail. Again, the form is provided online and you only need to print, complete and send to the required address.
Things to watch out for
As ever, there are certain scenarios where you will not be able to claim compensation:
- Acts or threats of vandalism or terrorism;
- Riots or civil commotion;
- Suicides or accidents involving trespassers;
- Gas leaks or fires in lineside buildings not caused by a train company;
- Line closures at the request of the police or emergency services.
However, in reality most train operators actually pay out in these circumstances anyway.
The majority of train delays are caused by bad weather and, thanks to the EU, the train operators have to pay refunds for trains delayed as a result of poor weather:
One thing you must make sure you do is submit your claim (remember to consider postage time if sending by traditional email) with 28 days of travel. This is a must and you will not receive compensation if you submit after this date.
What form will my compensation be in?
Taken from SouthernEastern:
Most operators will provide compensation in the form on National Rail Vouchers. Whilst this may seem a lesser alternative to a cash refund, National Rail Vouchers can be used with any train provider and these usually last for several years. Therefore, if you are going to take a train at sometime in the next few years (which I’m guessing you are), then this should be fine.
I’m a season ticket holder? Can I claim?
You certainly can! Again, SouthernEastern state:
You shall be entitled to the same compensation as the table above, but your “single ticket cost” will be calculated based on the following:
- An annual season ticket is considered to be 546 journeys (very specifically: every Monday to Friday (520 journeys) and one return journey being made one weekend in four (26 journeys)).
Therefore, a weekly ticket would be 10.5 journeys (546 / 52) and your compensation will be the cost of your weekly ticket divided by 10.5.
A little more complex to work out, but the submission process is the same and the train operator will do this math for you!
Have you ever applied for “delayrepay” compensation? How easy or difficult did you find the process?