Unless train travel is a real rarity for you, you’ve almost certainly had more than one experience of a rail delay. When you just want to get where you’re going, there is nothing more frustrating than sitting at a platform while your train’s expected arrival time gets further and further away, or finding out at the last minute that your train is cancelled altogether and it is a whole hour until the next one.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that, if you have more than a small delay on your journey, you will likely be entitled to claim a refund on some or all of your ticket price. While rail companies are generally good at issuing these refunds, they aren’t exactly big on publicising the fact that the option is available.
While details may vary according to the company running the delayed train, the following information should be true in most or all cases:
How Much Could you Reclaim?
If you choose not to travel at all because of a delay or cancellation, then you should be entitled to have your ticket completely refunded. In normal circumstances, deciding not to travel means you can refund your ticket minus a £10 admin fee, but if disruption was the reason then you should be able to get back the full face value.
If you do travel, different rail companies set different levels of compensation, so check with the train operator’s website for exact information. However, if you were delayed by at least a full hour then the minimum that a company must offer is 50% of your ticket’s value. For more serious delays, many companies offer a full refund. Some companies even compensate for much shorter delays. For example Southern Rail – whose services have made headlines for heavy disruption recently – offer a 25% refund for delays of as little as 15 minutes, and refund the full cost of a single journey for an hour’s delay.
Where a ticket covers multiple journeys, the refund will only apply to the affected part. For example, if you were delayed on one leg of the return journey then your compensation will be calculated based on half the ticket’s total cost as you are being compensated for one journey out of two. Similarly if you hold a season ticket it will be calculated based on the proportional cost of one day’s travel.
Claims may be refused in some situations where the delay was outside the rail network’s control, such as severe weather or cases where the emergency services closed part of the line.
How to Claim
Like exact compensation levels, claim methods vary between different train operators. Most refunds can be claimed by filling out a physical form that can be picked up at train stations. You will need to send off the form with your ticket, a receipt for your ticket, or other proof of purchase. Some operators also allow you to make your claim online. In this case you will have to attach a scan of your ticket or proof of purchase. Links to the appropriate sections of all train operator websites can be found on this page.
Various methods of repayment may be offered by the operator including bank transfer, PayPal, cheque, e-vouchers for future travel, or direct refund to a debit or credit card.