Leading article: Down the Tube

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Complaints about delays on the London Underground are perennial, yet only three per cent of passengers claimed compensation last year. Why, you might wonder, might that be?

Following a report last week that London's Oyster card users were overcharged by £1m in 2010, because of faulty equipment or failure to "touch in" and out, you might argue that the capital's commuters have more money than sense, or at least that they are less strapped for cash than they claim. You might even conclude that Londoners' insouciance means they hardly notice when fares rise.

You might conclude that. Until you understood the powerlessness that every seasoned commuter feels when the "next train" board is blank. Until you tried to find a member of staff who knew anything about applying for compensation – or, indeed, any member of staff at all. Or until you weighed the cost of your time and the cost of your season ticket against the small amount you were likely to recover, even if you knew the compensation system existed.

By then, the odds are that much longer than 15 minutes would have passed and that elusive train would have come and gone. Maybe London Underground should just give all passengers a "delays" bonus when they buy their first ticket of the new year.

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