Why is it still difficult to claim train delays? Half train companies do not automatically reimburse passengers despite the introduction of Delay Repay four years ago
- Only about half of 17 franchises currently offer automatic deferred refund
- Greater Anglia and ScotRail haven’t signed up yet
- Southeast will not introduce it until at least the end of the year
Train companies are accused of towing delays after it was found that about half are still not automatically compensating their passengers.
One-Click Delay Repay was unveiled by ministers four years ago to speed up the millions of claims registered each year.
It means passengers who have pre-purchased tickets or who use pre-pay smart cards – where you hop on and off at stations – will receive an email with a link to claim their money.
Train delays: your right to compensation comes into effect if you are delayed by more than 15 minutes
Your right to compensation starts if you are more than 15 minutes late. If your train is an hour late, you will be refunded the full price of a one-way ticket.
But Money Mail has found that many rail companies still insist that customers fill out clumsy forms.
According to the Department of Transportation, only about half of the 17 franchises currently offer automatic deferred refunds. Last year, about 250 million trips were made with four of the largest companies that haven’t signed up yet.
These include Greater Anglia and ScotRail, while Southeastern won’t be introducing it until at least the end of the year. Great Western Railway is only now preparing a ‘phased’ system of one-click refunds.
If there is no automatic Delay Repay, passengers will be informed of their entitlement via posters in stations or public announcements. They then have to track down an online or paper form.
Passengers are typically asked for personal information, an email address, travel details, the length of the delay, and sometimes even the purpose of their journey.
They must upload or staple a copy of the ticket online to a paper form, and sometimes include a ticket reference number.
In contrast, London North Eastern Railway (LNER), which runs trains from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh, offers a One-Click Delay Repay for three years. Passengers can click to choose a bank transfer or donate the money to charity.
The form is filled in automatically, but the passengers must provide bank details the first time, which are then saved.
Automatic refund schemes have also been launched by Caledonian Sleeper, Chiltern Railways, Govia Thameslink Railway and South Western Railway. There are no plans to expand the service to third-party ticket sellers such as Trainline.
Retired City of London accountant David Bigg, 75, chairman of the Witham and Braintree Rail Users’ Association in Essex, says: ‘It’s quite a job to claim compensation and a lot of people, frankly, don’t bother. ‘
Greg Smith, MP for Buckingham and member of the Transport Select Committee, added: ‘If LNER has been able to do it for three years, there is absolutely no excuse for another operator.’
Meanwhile, campaigner Baroness Altmann has called for the automatic compensation to be extended to include passengers without access to emails or smartphone apps.
A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia says: “We have reduced the number of mandatory questions and revised the layout of the form.”
The Department for Transport says the future launch of the new trade association Great British Railways will create ‘a single national compensation system that ensures all passengers have the same simple claim process’.