How to complain about your train journey

The official rules

It is important to realise our information covers your basic rights. Some train companies (also known as TOCs) may offer you improved compensation.

One hour is key. If your train is more than an hour late then you are definitely entitled to compensation. As a minimum you are entitled to a refund of 20% of your single ticket and 10% of your return ticket. However, you can find the compensation can be as high as 50% for more than a 30 minute delay. If something does go wrong always remember to ask.

The bad news is your compensation may be in the form of National Rail vouchers, so you will be back on the trains again. You can choose any train company to use these with but they cannot be used for online train ticket purchases. Keep persisting and some companies will change these vouchers to a cheque refund.

If you are not satisfied with the resolution then you have the right to escalate your case to Passenger Focus for journeys outside of London and London Travelwatch for London.

What about incidental costs?

If your train is delayed and you cannot get to your final destination, you can claim for hotel or taxi costs. However, you should make the stationmaster or train conductor aware of the situation. Be sure to take down their name in case you need to prove you gave them advanced warning.

Season tickets

The majority of customer journeys are with season tickets and the refunds are calculated based on the delay. For a weekly ticket if the delay is greater than one hour you are entitled to 20% of the ticket price divided by seven.

For monthly tickets it depends on the train company. If it operates the Passenger Charter scheme then your discount will be applied when you repurchase a ticket, if it fails to meet its charter levels. The alternative is the “delay and repay” scheme where you receive compensation every time the train is more than 30 minutes late. However, you need to make a claim.


There are certain situations where compensation is not due. Train companies can avoid paying any compensation under the following circumstances:
  • Vandalism, suicide or trespassers on the line; 
  • Line closure by police or fire services; 
  • Exceptional weather conditions.

If you don’t use the train ticket 

Advance tickets are not refundable unless the train was delayed. For season tickets of more than one month you can get a refund on a pro-rata basis. 

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