Train delays & cancellations
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 this 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.
Who is your issue with?
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 it 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 one 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 it on your Credit Card, you will be covered by section 75 and can get money back that way. To date, few consumers have used this option, so we are keen to hear how it goes if you use this approach.
- Abellio Greater Anglia
- c2c (also offers automated for smartcard holders for 2+ mins)
- CrossCountry Trains
- East Midlands Trains
- Gatwick Express
- Great Northern
- London Midland
- South Western Railway
- Transpennine Express
- Virgin East Coast
- Virgin Trains
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.
Single train tickets
|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|
Season train tickets
The table below shows your entitlement for weekly, monthly and annual tickets. Based on the amount you paid for the ticket and the length of the delay, you can calculate how much you are owed. For example, say you hold a monthly ticket that cost £1,000 and experienced a delay of 90 minutes, you are entitled to a claim of £1000/40 = £25 compensation.
|Delay length||Weekly tickets||Monthly tickets||Annual tickets|
* 15-minute delay repay source
Claiming a refund
Some train operators are looking at introducing an automatic refund. Presently, Virgin Trains West Coast is the only train company that is offering this service. If you are delayed by more than 30 minutes and have booked via their website or via their app they will issue an automatic refund. Automatic refunds are also available on purchases made using a c2c Smartcard that have suffered delays of more than 2 minutes.
If you didn't travel with Virgin you will need to claim a refund using a paper form provided by the train operator, or you can use our online form to request compensation.
Unfortunately, some companies, including TFL, Chiltern Railways, Arriva Trains Wales, Grand Central, and First Transpennine Express, don't yet offer Delay Repay.
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.
When can I not claim for a repayment/compensation?
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.
Can I claim for a strike?
Most train operating companies will pay out for delays caused by strikes.
What if I am in Northern Ireland?
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:
- 15 minutes or more on Tube, DLR or Emirates Air Line (cable car) services
- 30 minutes or more on London Overground or TfL Rail services
It’s not automatic so you’ll have to tell them about it. There are a number of exceptions to the refund scheme, namely:
- You get free travel
- The delay is caused by planned engineering work or service changes
- Security alerts
- A customer incident, like a person falling ill on a train
- Adverse weather conditions
- Strike action
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.
Making a claim but lost your ticket?
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
Getting on another train if your train is delayed or cancelled
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.
If you decide not to travel because of the delay or cancellation
Then you have the right to give your ticket back for a full refund.
Miss a connection because your train was delayed or cancelled
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.
No first class available
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.
Delayed train packed so I moved to first class
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.
Cancelled trains: your rights
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.
Vouchers or money?
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:
- Overcrowded trains
- Lack of Wi-fi when it was promised
- On board media content not available
- Broken toilets
Consequential losses - money you’ve had to spend as a consequence of the problem
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.
Making your claim for consequential losses
As with all claims and complaints, it’s crucial to clearly explain:
- What happened & when
- What was the impact, explain what this impact cost in terms of time, money and/or effort to resolve
- What you’d like the company to do & why, be clear and be reasonable
- Provide evidence to support your claim, such as photos, or receipts
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.
Train compensation tool
Submit your issue for free
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.
You should know
The length of a train delay is counted from when you REACH your destination, not when you left your origin.
- You have 28 days from the date of the delay to apply for compensation.
- To claim for compensation or a refund, you need to have the ticket, proof of purchase or a scan of the ticket for the specific journey for which you would like compensation. Without the ticket, train companies have no way of knowing whether the claim is genuine.
- All train operating companies have different rules relating to customer issues; everything in this section is the national minimum standard to which the train companies must adhere.
- 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 an issue cannot be resolved with the train company, you have the right to take your case for independent inspection. This is either Transport Focus (which covers all of the UK outside of London), or London Travelwatch for journeys or issues within London.
National conditions of carriage
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 Transport 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 Transport 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.
Claims management companies
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.
Resolver's top 10 tips for your travel troubles
- If you experience a train delay of at least 30 minutes then (in some cases, 15 minutes, depending on your operator), you should be entitled to some money back. Check your operator for more details.
- As the delay increases, often the compensation you will receive does too. Make sure to time your delay on your phone, or a watch (if you still wear one) to include the length in your case.
- Most UK national train operators are in a scheme called Delay Repay to process this. But if yours is not, search for their Passengers’ Charter, detailing your rights.
Who regulates the market?
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.
- Some of the more enlightened franchises, such as Virgin, will process automatic refunds if you purchased online. Again, check your operator’s policy. For some operators, you can even upload your ticket via our app by taking a picture of it on your phone to make a claim.
- If you are travelling by London Underground, then you only need to experience a 15-minute delay in order to claim a full refund for that single fare. You can do that on the TFL website. If travelling using an Oyster card in London and surrounding areas, ensure it is registered with TFL to prove your journey was made.
- Don't forget to claim, check how long you have to make one. You may need to do it within 28 days of the delay, as some claims will not be accepted after that point.
- If you have a train delay and can't get to your final destination, you may be able to claim for hotel/taxi costs - IF you make the stationmaster/conductor aware. Make sure to take their name.
- If using paper tickets, always take photos to send off and hold on to the physical ones until your refund is processed. Unless you can prove it, you can't raise a case.
- Remember, people power can make a difference. If enough people claim money back they are entitled to when a delay occurs, services will have to improve. The more you let it go, the less likely it is things will change. Plus, it can really add up to a useful sum!
- Chat to fellow passengers. If you're stuck on a tube or train, strike up a conversation. You're all in the same boat, why not pass the time together. It's not as strange as it might seem!
You can raise issues with 31 companies in Trains services
Key companies include: