Make Delay Pay: more passengers claiming compensation

16 November 2023

All our research on rail confirms the importance of punctuality for passengers – they want and expect their train to be on time. When it’s not, a good, easy way to claim compensation can take some of the sting out of delays.

That’s why in 2019 we launched our Make Delay Pay campaign and made a number of recommendations to the rail industry. Our research found too few people claimed what they were entitled to, often as they weren’t aware or found it too much of a hassle. We worked to raise passenger awareness and encourage the railway to make it easier for people to claim.

Today, in partnership with the Department for Transport, we’ve published another wave of Rail Delays and Compensation research. This regular tracking survey has been run every few years to understand passengers’ experience of the process and, crucially, the proportion of eligible passengers now claiming compensation.

The good news is that the proportion of people claiming has increased, from 37 per cent in 2020 to 47 per cent in 2023. Those claiming for 30-minute delays has gone up from 46 per cent in 2020 to 54 per cent. Claim rates for 15-minute delays have also increased up from 22 per cent to 35 per cent. Levels of satisfaction with the process have also improved. In our latest research 81 per cent were satisfied with the speed of receiving compensation and 58 per cent were satisfied with the train company alerting them they were entitled to compensation.

Since the previous research in 2020 the Office of Rail and Road has consulted on and then implemented a new license condition on delay compensation with a code of practice for train companies. We welcomed this – it reflected the recommendations set out in our own Make Delay Pay report, including on announcements about compensation on trains and at stations, prominent messages on websites and simplification of claims forms.

There is still room for improvement, more than half of passengers with eligible delays are still not claiming the compensation they are entitled to and nearly a quarter still didn’t think they could claim. As well as improving awareness the other key barrier to tackle is the sense that it’s not worth bothering for the amount you’d get back. The best solution to making the claims process easier and quicker is more automation. This means paying the money directly into your account or ‘one-click’ compensation where passengers are prompted to simply confirm their claim with all the details pre-populated.

Many train passengers are still experiencing too much disruption, even leaving aside the impact on passengers of the now long-running industrial dispute, train performance has often been patchy. The railway’s focus must always be on running trains on time, but when it doesn’t do this making sure passengers know they can easily claim compensation can help build trust between passengers and the train company.

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