Train delay compensation - everything you need to know

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Local commuters claiming compensation for delayed railway journeys have a lower success rate than the national average, new figures suggest.

Under Northern’s Delay Repay scheme, commuters made 101,329 successful claims for compensation between April and October 2018, equivalent to just five claims for every train cancelled or delayed by at least half an hour.

The success rate for Northern customers’ claims was 77, coming under the national average of 84 per cent.

The rail firm rejected 30,917 compensation claims in the same period.

There were 22,183 Northern services cancelled or delayed by at least half an hour in the period analysed, meaning that an average of six claims were submitted per each affected service.

At the time the figures were gathered, passengers could claim half of their ticket price back for delays of 30 minutes or more and a full refund for delays of an hour or more, regardless of the cause of the delay.

But since December 2018, this has been amended to Delay Repay 15, which pays back a quarter of a rail fare for delays of 15 to 30 minutes.

The figures did not include payouts under a temporary enhanced compensation scheme for certain passengers, introduced after the May timetable chaos.

A Northern spokesperson said: “Every single valid Delay Repay claim, with the correct information provided by the customer, is paid quickly and efficiently with a negligible number of rejections. We promote Delay Repay 15 heavily in stations through posters and leaflets, on train announcements, across social media and on our website. Our processes and results are reviewed by the DfT regularly.

“Customer awareness of Delay Repay and propensity to claim is evident in the fact that, since the peak of claims caused by the May timetable last year, the volume of claims has reduced in line with performance improvements but remains at twice the level of before.”

The figure lies in stark contract to rail providers like Merseyrail, who approved 100 per cent of the 661 compensation claims they received.Heathrow

Express rejected the most claims, only approving half of its 3,6,37 requests for compensation.

If you are unhappy with the decision about your claim, you can contact the new Rail Ombudsman service, set up in November 2018, which aims to sort out unresolved customer complaints. Phone 0330 094 0362 or visit www.railombudsman.org

It can be a miserable experience when your train is either running late or cancelled altogether, but often you have a right to get some or all of your money back. Here’s what you need to know ...

How late does my train have to be before I can make a claim?

Since December 2018, Northern passengers have been able to claim compensation for delays of as little as 15 minutes. Before that, only delays of 30 minutes or more qualified for money back.

How much money could I get back?

If you reach your destination 15 to 29 minutes late, you can get a quarter of your money back if you have a single ticket, or 12.5 per cent if you have a return.

For delays of 30 to 59 minutes, you are entitled to half your single fare back, or the relevant portion of your return ticket. Alternatively, you can get one single ticket to anywhere on the Northern network, which might work out to be the better deal if you’re planning another trip.

For delays of one to two hours, you can claim back the whole cost of your single ticket, or the relevant portion of your return ticket. You can instead choose one return ticket anywhere on Northern’s network.

For delays of two hours or more, you are entitled to a full refund on your single or return ticket, or two return tickets anywhere on the Northern network (day trip for two, anyone?)

What if my train was cancelled?

If your train was cancelled and you had to take a later train, you can claim if your journey was delayed by 15 minutes or more - even if this later train was running on time.

What if I decided not to travel?

Then it’s a different process. If you decided not to travel because your train was cancelled or delayed, you can claim a full refund on your ticket by returning it to the original retailer. Under the National Rail Conditions of Travel, this applies to all tickets, including those sold as non-refundable.

Does it matter what caused the delay?

No, Northern has signed up to the national Delay Repay scheme, which pays compensation regardless of who was to blame for any delays.

What if an emergency timetable was operating?

Then any delays will be measured against this emergency timetable, not the original timetable.

How long do I have to lodge a claim?

You must make your claim within 28 days of your delayed journey.

How do I make a claim?

You can claim compensation by picking up a form from a Northern station ticket office and sending it to the Freepost address given.

Or you can claim online, by filling out the form here: https://delay.northernrailway.co.uk/

Do I need to keep my ticket?

Yes! Don’t let it get swallowed up by any automated ticket gates. Instead ask a member of station staff to let you through. You will need your ticket to prove you were travelling that day.

I travel using a season ticket. Can I claim compensation?

Yes, you claim in the same way. In the case of season tickets, any compensation will be calculated against the proportional daily cost of the price of the ticket.

Season ticket holders can register an account with Northern so claims can be made without the need to type in your full details every time.

How will I be paid?

You can choose to be paid by BACS transfer, payment onto a card, cheque, rail voucher or, where eligible, free tickets.

Can’t they refund me automatically?

Northern has started to pay out some compensation automatically. Anyone buying an advance ticket directly through the Northern website or app should now get any compensation for delays without having to do anything. If this applies to you, you will get an email telling you that the compensation is coming. It should be refunded back to the card you used to buy your ticket within three working days of your delayed journey.

How long will they take to pay out?

Rail operators should make a decision about a claim within a month. According to industry figures for the first half of 2018/19, Northern resolved 91 per cent of claims within 20 working days.

What if the disruption left me out of pocket in other ways?

Delay Repay won’t give out compensation beyond the cost of the rail ticket. If your delay caused you to miss a concert, for example, you can instead try claiming compensation under the Consumer Rights Act. But this would only work if the train company had caused the delay.

My journey wasn’t delayed but I was unhappy with the service for a different reason - can I make a claim?

If you are unhappy with your journey for another reason, you could try calling Northern’s Customer Experience Centre on 0800 200 6060 and making a complaint.

Here’s all the information you’ll need to lodge a claim with Virgin Trains West Coast.

How late does my train have to be before I can make a claim?

If you’re travelling with Virgin Trains West Coast, you can make a claim for delays of 30 minutes or more.

How much money could I get back?

It all depends on how long you were delayed for.

Unfortunately, you don’t get anything for delays of less than half an hour, unlike with some other operators.

For delays of 30 to 59 minutes, you’re entitled to a refund worth half the price of your single ticket, or half the price of the relevant part of your return ticket. For delays of an hour or more, you get to claim the full cost of a single ticket, of the full cost of the relevant part of a return ticket.

Any delays over two hours (and you have our sympathy…) mean you get to claim the full cost of a return ticket.

Does it matter what caused the delay?

No, Virgin Trains West Coast has signed up to the national Delay Repay scheme, which pays compensation regardless of who was to blame for any delays.

What if I decided not to travel?

Then it’s a different process. If you decided not to travel because your train was cancelled or delayed, you can claim a full refund on your ticket by returning it to the original retailer. Under the National Rail Conditions of Travel, this applies to all tickets, including those sold as non-refundable.

What if an emergency timetable was operating?

Then any delays will be measured against this emergency timetable, not the original timetable.

How long do I have to lodge a claim?

Don’t hang about - you must make your claim within 28 days of your delayed journey.

How do I make a claim?

You can claim online at https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/delayrepay

Do I need to keep my ticket?

Yes! Don’t let it get swallowed up by any automated ticket gates. Instead ask a member of station staff to let you through. You will need your ticket to prove you were travelling that day.

How will I be paid?

You can choose between PayPal transfer, cheque or rail travel vouchers.

Can’t they refund me automatically?

Yes, some delayed passengers will get compensation refunded without having to make a claim at all. Customers who booked an advance ticket through Virgin Trains’ own app or website, for journeys made entirely on its trains, will get an email saying they will receive money back within three to five working days.

For everyone else, though, it’s a case of lodging a claim.

I travel using a season ticket. Can I claim compensation?

Yes, season ticket holders are refunded a proportionate cost of their season ticket.

How long will they take to pay out?

Virgin Trains says compensation should be sent out within 28 days of an eligible claim being lodged. National targets state that rail operators should make a decision about a claim within a month.

Official figures show Virgin Trains West Coast resolved 86 per cent of claims within 20 working days in the first half of 2018/19.

What if the disruption left me out of pocket in other ways?

Delay Repay won’t give out compensation beyond the cost of the rail ticket.

If your delay caused you to miss a concert, for example, you can instead try claiming compensation under the Consumer Rights Act. But this would only work if the train company had caused the delay.

My journey wasn’t delayed but I was unhappy with the service for a different reason - can I make a claim?

You could certainly try lodging a complaint with its customer services team and seeing if they would offer you something as a goodwill gesture. They can be reached via its website: https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/complaint-enquiry