Train delay compensation: How do I get an automatic refund and all you need to know about new rules

The days of 'jumping through hoops' to claim compensation could soon be over

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The Independent Online

Whilst many train companies pledge refunds to make up for severe delays, the arduous process can be more trouble than it’s worth for many commuters. Endless small print and filling out forms can mean that people put off claiming refunds, or give up altogether.

Railways Minister Claire Perry has today announced in The Times that she has drawn up plans which will enable rail passengers to receive automatic refunds for late or cancelled trains and avoid “jumping through hoops” to receive compensation.

How many people will this apply to?

The Government calculates that 3 per cent of trains were “significantly late” or cancelled in the last year.

Up to 90 per cent of commuters eligible for refunds currently don’t apply for them- meaning they’re missing out on a combined total of up to £100 million per year.

What length of delays will be covered?

Current delays policies will still apply, just the way in which you receive the compensation will change.

At present, most companies offer a full refund for any train which has been cancelled. The length of delay eligible for compensation varies depending on the train company which you travel with. Most companies grant half the price of the ticket back after half an hour and full compensation if the train is more than an hour late.

What form will the compensation take?

Passengers could receive compensation into their bank account directly or straight back onto their smartcard as they touch out of the station at the barriers.

Why the change now?

The announcement comes as part of government plans to modernise the railway system and move towards electronic and smart systems over paper tickets. Minister Perry says the Government is trying to develop “a service fit for the 21st century.”

When will it come into force?

A trial of fully automated compensation will be introduced next year. Train company c2c will give automatic refunds to people as they touch out of stations with smart tickets.

If the trial is successful, the Government will roll it out across networks by making automatic compensation a requirement for any train operating companies which they sign agreements with.