Did you know you can get a refund on your train tickets for a number of issues from delayed or cancelled trains to overcrowding? We have put together a handy guide for you. Find out your rights and raise your complaint via Resolver. It’s free and thanks to our smart tool it only takes a few minutes to submit your claim.
Most train companies now operate a system called “Delay Repay”, which means that you get part or all of your money back if your delay is over a certain amount. You are entitled to get 50% of your fare back if the train is delayed by more than 30 minutes and 100% if it’s delayed by more than an hour. A recent addition to the delay repay rules in October 2016 now means that some train companies will give you 25% of your fare back if it’s 15 minutes delayed - more information on the specifics in the tables below.
But it doesn’t end there. What train companies don’t tell you is that you can now claim for a lot more than just a delay to your journey - you can also claim compensation for poor service and consequential costs resulting from your delay.
Delay Repay is an initiative that the majority of train companies in the UK have signed up to, and any new rail franchises are now expected to adhere to as well. What this means for you is - if you are delayed by one of these trains, no matter what the reason, you are entitled to a partial refund.
As for the train franchises that aren’t signed up to Delay Repay - they are still governed by the National Carriage Rules (the thing referred to on the back of your ticket), a less generous scheme to Delay Repay but which still requires the train company to pay you back some dosh for the delay.
Don’t forget, if the ticket was over £100 and you purchased the ticket on your Credit Card, you will be covered by section 75 and can get money back that way. To date this has had limited use by consumers and so we are keen to hear how it goes if you use this approach.
Companies signed up to delay repay scheme:
Train delay compensation can be up to 100% of your fare depending on the length of the delay.
|15-29 minutes||25% of single fare*|
|30-59 minutes||50% of single fare|
|60-119 minutes||100% of single fare|
|120+ minutes||100% of single fare or return fare back|
If you are a season ticket owner the table below shows your entitlement for weekly, monthly and annual tickets. If you know how much you paid for the ticket, based on the length of the delay you can calculate how much you are owed. IE: You hold a monthly ticket that you paid £1000. After experiencing a delay of 90 minutes, you are entitled to a claim of £1000/40 = £25 compensation.
|Delay length||Weekly tickets||Monthly tickets||Annual tickets|
Some train operators such as Virgin have introduced an automatic refund on the West Coast Mainline. If you are delayed by more than 30 minutes and have booked online with them (or bought via their App) they will issue an automatic refund. Presently, Virgin is the only train company that is offering this service.
If not you will need to claim a refund by either getting a paper form or use our online form to request a repayment.
Unfortunately, some companies, including TFL, Chiltern Railways, Arriva Trains Wales, South West Trains, Grand Central, and First Transpennine Express, don't yet offer Delay Repay. (South West Trains franchise is changing and so we expect this to change with the new operator).
If the delayed journey was not with a train company currently using a Delay Repay scheme, the bare minimum it has to offer differs according to the National Rail Conditions of Carriage. This is what is referred to on the back of your train ticket. It is worth checking the compensation policy with these companies directly.
They only have to offer compensation when the train is delayed by 60 minutes and even then only have to offer a 50% proportion of the fare’s value back. However, although this is the statutory minimum, in many cases they will pay out on shorter delays, so it’s always worth submitting your claim.
Season ticket holders for firms operating on the old-style compensation, will get money off the following year’s ticket at renewal. However, if you’re not renewing your season ticket, explain your circumstances and why you feel you deserve compensation for the poor service.
A refund often doesn't apply if delays, cancellations or poor service happened for reasons outside the train company's control, for example: exceptionally severe weather, vandalism, riots or civil commotion. This can also include suicide.
Most train operating companies will pay out for delays caused by strikes.
The National Conditions of Carriage do not apply in Northern Ireland. Translink the train operator does have a delay, repay scheme and only provides vouchers and not cash compensation.
If you’re taking the tube, DLR, TFL Trains, London Overground or even the cable car in London, the rules about delays are a little different.
London Underground will refund you the single fare for the delayed journey you’re on if it's:
It’s not automatic so you’ll have to tell them about it. There are a number of exceptions to the refund scheme, namely:
If you are traveling on London Overground or TfL Rail Services and your delay is over an hour, then you can claim under the usual train delay rules.
Unfortunately, the train companies take a pretty hard line on lost tickets. If you've lost a paper ticket it's unlikely you'll be able to claim back for a delay or a cancellation. However, as always, in exceptional cases the railway may reconsider or offer some form of compensation as a gesture of goodwill. If you do lose your ticket, the next best thing is proof of purchase - preferably a receipt for the ticket. Failing that, you could try a booking number if you booked online or a credit card statement. There are no guarantees you'll be successful without the ticket, but it's worth a shot.
Remember, if your ticket was over £100 and you purchased it via your credit card, you could try making a chargeback claim
So if your train has been cancelled you need to think about how you are going to get to your destination. You should be able to get a later train or take an alternative route. If you take an alternative route check with train staff before you travel.
Then you have the right to give your ticket back for a full refund.
If you miss a train because of a delay or cancellation then you can still claim and can make the claim against the train operator that delayed your journey. You can choose to get an alternative form of transportation (of reasonable cost) and get a refund for the unused ticket.
If your train is delayed or cancelled and your replacement does not have first class, then you can apply for a refund for the difference between the first class ticket and the standard ticket price of the journey that was affected.
If you moved into First Class because the train was packed due to a delay, you will be liable for a fine if caught, as you do not have a first class ticket.
If it's a refund for a cancelled train, you should be able to get a refund at the station and it'll be paid back to you in the way you paid for it - so if you paid in cash, you'll get cash back. But if you want a refund for a delay, you'll need to apply for one and it'll take up to 28 days.
If your train is late or cancelled and you want to claim back from the train company, you are entitled to money back, often as a cheque. Previously you were only entitled to compensation as a voucher. The voucher could be used on any train operating company (TOC). It is your choice how you would like to get your compensation.
If you have an advance ticket and you wish to change the ticket you must do this before you travel. If you undertake any changes you are potentially subject to a £10 administration charge. If you cancel a ticket the refund is subject to a £10 administration charge, except where the train is delayed or cancelled. In these situations you can claim for compensation.
Travel providers must provide “Reasonable care and skill” to customers, and if they don’t, you have a right to complain and potentially be awarded compensation.
Your train company should deliver its service to you with a basic level of comfort – and if you've bought a ticket since 1 October 2016 and think the firm's failed to do this, you could complain and quote the Consumer Rights Act (under Section 49).
HOWEVER - this decision that the Consumer Rights Acts should cover travel is still very new so there's no guarantee of success.
Issues that you theoretically could claim under the Consumer Rights Act include:
The Consumer Rights Act’s ‘reasonable care and skill’ section also provides cover for what are described as consequential losses, so if the breach of contract resulted in additional costs. For example, you had to get a taxi because you would otherwise have an unreasonable wait or in extreme circumstances even a missed flight or a hotel.
N.B. This is new legislation and largely untested, so there aren’t guarantees, so we’d recommend you do not spend money you can’t afford to lose and we would love to hear about your experiences so that we can inform others.
As with all claims and complaints, it’s crucial to clearly explain:
Resolver's train compensation tool will take you through a few steps and help you prepare your claim. Before you search for the train company to start your complaint/claim, please also read our tips to make it easier for you.
After you’ve filled in all the information and details you can remember about your journey, your case file is saved securely online for you to refer back to.
If you use Resolver to make your claim, you will be provided a template to help ensure you put through the most appropriate claim possible.
The Resolver system holds the contact details for train operating companies and will help you deliver and manage your complaint as it is important that you keep a complete record of all dealings you have with the train operating company.
If your case is rejected by the Train Operating Company (TOC) you can escalate your case for independent assessment. This is undertaken by Transport Focus across the UK, except London where London Travelwatch can undertake independent assessment of your case.
Neither have the ability to make a binding decision against the train company as they are not an Ombudsman.
The last resort is Court and please think about that before undertaking as it can be costly and is a high risk approach so please consider carefully.
The length of a train delay is counted from when you REACH your destination, not when you left your origin.
All train operating companies must adhere to the National Conditions of Carriage. These set the way issues must be handled and what compensation, if any you are entitled to. If you require a refund, these must be via a paper-based form and include a copy of the ticket is required. You can ask for this at a station's ticket office, or online via Resolver.
Setting up a case in Resolver will mean the company is automatically nudged with a reminder email if it does not respond. If you are not happy when a response does arrive, the system reminds you when you can raise your case to the next most senior level of management within the company.
If an issue cannot be resolved with the train company, you have the right to take your case for independent inspection. This is either Passenger Focus (which covers all of the UK outside of London), or London Travelwatch for journeys or issues within London.
Unlike the rulings of an ombudsman, the recommendations of Passenger Focus and London Travelwatch are not binding on the company and they can choose to ignore the proposed solution, but this is rare.
Transport Focus is an independent passenger watchdog who you can contact to make a complaint if you’re unhappy with the response you’ve received.
Transport focus will aim to resolve your complaint within 5 working days. Though the time limits aren’t set in stone, they’ll aim to resolve the matter in up to 35 days by working with the train company.
Bear in mind that Transport Focus isn’t a watchdog, so making a complaint through them might get you a better result, but it’s not the same as going to an ombudsman.
These will take between 15% and 30% of your compensation to cover their costs and will manage your case for you. They may not take your case, however, as they tend to focus on low-effort cases. Our recommendation is to try to claim yourself, to begin with - either directly or through Resolver - before you use a claims management company.
If you are dissatisfied or there are areas outside of the control of the train company (such as overcrowding), your issue can be addressed to the Department of Transport, which is responsible for regulation of all train operating companies. Resolver recommends that you contact the ORR (Office of Rail Regulation) who may be able to investigate your concerns.
You can raise issues with 31 companies in Trains services
Key companies include: