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“Don’t chuck your ticket!” – advice from watchdog on claiming during the timetable crisis

The independent watchdog Transport Focus sets out top tips for claiming when your rail journey has been disrupted.

  • Keep hold of your used tickets – it is the simplest form of proof that you travelled. So if you are going through ticket gates ask the member of staff if you can keep hold of it. This can be especially useful if some form of retrospective ‘special’ compensation is offered and you need to prove that you travelled.
  • If you no longer have the ticket then do you have the receipt, or can you find proof via your bank statement or credit card statement, or if you have a smartcard then can you print out the journey history? These can often be used as evidence that you bought a ticket.
  • Take a photo of the display boards at the station showing that your train was delayed or, if you have an app showing real-time train arrivals, take a screenshot of the details of your train. You should not need this – but if there is some form of dispute then having evidence really helps.

What are your rights?

Thameslink, Great Northern and Northern all operate a system called ‘Delay Repay’.

Under this you are entitled to compensation if your delay exceeds a certain amount of time. For Thameslink and Great Northern this is 15 minutes or more. For Northern it is 30 minutes or more.

It is the overall delay to you in reaching your destination which counts, not simply the delay to the train or trains on which you travelled. For example, your train may only have been ten minutes late but if it resulted in you missing a connection and you arrive 45 minutes late at your destination you can claim.

This applies to all ticket types (including season tickets) and applies irrespective of the cause of the delay – it doesn’t matter what caused it, if you are delayed by 15 or 30 minutes or more you can claim.

There are, though, some caveats:

  • train companies will not normally accept a claim if you were told about the delay before you bought your ticket
  • if the train company has introduced a temporary timetable the delay repay guarantee will usually be based on that temporary timetable rather than the original one (usually applies to things like planned engineering works or special timetables introduced for bad weather)
  • you must submit your claim within 28 days of the journey date.

Thameslink and Great Northern

Click here to go to the Thameslink delay repay website.

Click here to go to the Great Northern delay repay website

Both contain details on the amount you are entitled to and the different ways you can claim it.

While Thameslink and Great Northern try to sort out the current problem, they have agreed that you can claim against the original May 2018 timetable shown on www.railplan2020.com, or the train service in place on the day you travelled.  So, if the train you had planned to catch has just ‘disappeared’ on the day, sometimes creating a big gap in services, then you can still claim against it.

Thameslink also offers an ‘enhanced compensation’ scheme for season ticket holders if there are persistent delays on a route. Click here for details.

Northern

Click here to go to the Northern delay repay website. It contains details on the amount you are entitled to and the different ways you can claim it.

If you bought an Advance ticket through Northern’s website or app then it will automatically pay any compensation back onto the card you paid with. For other tickets you will need to claim yourself. Click here for more details on the automatic payment.

Extra claims

You are not just limited to claiming for delays. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives you the right to claim if you think a service (and this includes a train journey) is not performed with reasonable care and skill.

This could cover any aspect of the service you received. So it could cover things like staff behaviour, catering, toilets and also so-called ‘consequential loss’ arising from the delay (such as missing flights or having to get a taxi).

It is your right to claim and the railway would need to consider it, but it doesn’t guarantee that train company will pay out – they can dispute claims.  You would need to show that the rail industry was at fault and that they did not use reasonable care and skill.

What if I’m not happy

If you are not happy with the response / offer from the train company:

  • you can appeal to Transport Focus (or if for a journey in the greater London area our colleagues at London TravelWatch) and we will attempt to mediate on your behalf
  • you have the option of going to small claims court (i.e. exercising your statutory rights)
  • later this autumn we are hopeful that a ‘rail ombudsman’ type scheme will be implemented – it will make decisions that are binding on the train company.

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