Rail delays: New plans to compensate passengers

File photo dated 2013 showing passengers leaving the platform at Paddington Station.

Rail passengers will be able to claim compensation for delays of more than 15 minutes under new government plans.

They can currently only make claims when services are delayed by at least 30 minutes.

The Department for Transport said its new scheme will initially launch on Govia Thameslink Railway services in the next few months before being expanded on other networks.

Passenger and rail industry groups said they supported the plans.

The changes would also see compensation of 100% of the single fare ticket value for delays of between 60 and 119 minutes.

The new compensation thresholds

  • 25% of the single fare for delays of 15 to 29 minutes
  • 50% of the single fare for delays of 30 to 59 minutes
  • 100% of the single fare for delays of 60 minutes to 119 minutes
  • 100% of the total ticket cost (including if it is a return) for delays of two hours or more

After its initial launch on GTR in the coming months, the DfT said the scheme will be expanded - starting with any new South Western, West Midlands and South Eastern franchises.

Eventually it could cover all English rail services, including journeys which cross into Scotland or Wales. The Welsh government is also planning an improved compensation deal for the franchises it controls.

GTR operates Southern services, which have suffered months of disruption and strikes on rail routes in south London, Surrey, Sussex and Kent.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling described the proposals as a "major improvement for passengers".

"Together with the Consumer Rights Act, this policy shows we are putting passengers first and making sure they receive due compensation for poor service," he said.

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Commenting on the plans, Anthony Smith from watchdog Transport Focus said the measures "will go a long way to help build back passenger trust".

"Train companies need to do more to alert passengers to compensation. Passengers expect the process to become smarter and automatic, taking the onus off them to have to claim in the first place - automatic Delay Repay is the way forward," he said.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, said: "We know that every minute counts for passengers and we understand the argument for wanting to start the compensation clock ticking earlier, especially for commuter services.

"Train companies are paying out more in compensation for delays, and making it easier to apply for. A new nationwide campaign to raise awareness of how to claim money back for delays starts next week."

The DfT said all future rail franchises will be required to introduce the compensation policy, and officials said they will explore opportunities to roll it out for all franchises during the current parliament.

The Welsh government intends to introduce a similar compensation policy for its next rail service contract and Metro services.

Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates said: "It is important that passengers in Wales receive a reliable rail service that enables them to get to their destination on time. We believe that when delays do occur passengers should be adequately compensated."

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