Rail travellers to share £50m payments

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The Independent Online

Train companies today announced a £50 million compensation package for passengers for delays following the Hatfield crash and widespread flooding.

Train companies today announced a £50 million compensation package for passengers for delays following the Hatfield crash and widespread flooding.

The deal, to be for by Railtrack, the train operating companies and

Shadow Strategic Rail Authority, is the biggest rail compensation deal ever.

It offers up to four weeks' free travel for those suffering the greatest disruption.

About 500,000 passengers will receive three weeks' free travel, including most London commuters.

A number of companies are offering 15 days or more of free travel. The period covered is October 15 to November 11.

Great North Eastern Railways, which runs the East Coast main line on which the October 17 Hatfield crash occurred, is offering up to 22 days free travel.

Virgin West Coast passengers will also get up to 22 days free travel while Virgin CrossCountry passengers will get 21 days.

West Anglia Great Northern passengers will get up to 19 days, and there will be up to 16 free days for passengers on South West Trains and on Silverlink's Northampton line.

Midland Main Line is offering 18 days free travel while Connex South Central, Connex South Eastern, Great Eastern, Gatwick Express, Thames, Thameslink and Great Western are all offering 15 days.

The number of free days offered by the remaining train companies varies from one day for ScotRail's Highland passengers, up to 15.

The package, as expected, only covers passengers with monthly or longer period season tickets. Passengers with weekly or daily tickets will have to enclose proof of travel and details of the journey and delay experienced to qualify for normal refunds under each train company's Passengers' Charter.

There has already been some criticism of this arrangement because passengers may have thrown away tickets which they would now have to reproduce to get compensation.

The rail companies said that in the exceptional circumstances passengers could produce a letter from their employers showing that they normally travelled to work by train.

They said the level of disruption had been evaluated for each route and that local arrangements would generally allow compensation to be made by cheque or credit card refund.

Passengers will be told through local announcements whether, instead of a refund, they can choose additional days' extensions to season tickets but in some cases this will not be possible.

The train operators said that companies could add on extra days' compensation for days not covered by the October 15-November 11 period announced today.

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