Am I eligible for compensation if my train is delayed (including season tickets)?

02 May 2018

If your journey is delayed you may be entitled to compensation. The amount offered will depend on the scheme operated by the train company you used, your ticket type and the length of your delay. Details can be found in the Passenger Charter document produced by each train company.

In all cases, 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, a ten-minute delay to a connecting train may delay you by an hour.

You have a choice in how your compensation is paid. You can opt to have it in the form of Rail Travel Vouchers but there will always be a ‘money option’ which could be a cheque, a BACs payment or a refund to your debit or credit card.

There are two main types of compensation schemes.

Delay Repay

Most train companies now operate Delay Repay. Under this, you are entitled to compensation if your delay exceeds a certain time. Originally this was 30 minutes but, following extensive campaigning by Transport Focus and others, some operators now offer a 15-minute threshold. This applies to all tickets (including season tickets) and applies irrespective of the cause of the delay. 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 be based on that temporary timetable rather than the original one
  • you must submit your claim within 28 days of the journey date.

The amount you will get depends on the ticket type you have and the length of the delay. For single and return tickets – the minimum you should get is:

Delay Single Return
15-29 mins* 25 per cent 12.5 per cent
30-59 mins 50 per cent 25 per cent
60-119 mins 100 per cent 50 per cent
120+ mins 100 per cent 100 per cent

*not all companies offer the 15-minute threshold. For season tickets the operator will first work out the value of each single journey the ticket covers:

  • a weekly season is said to cover 10 single journeys
  • a monthly season covers 40 single journeys
  • an annual season covers 464 single journeys (it assumes that you will travel over some weekends as well as during the week)
  • A Flexi Season ticket covers 16 single journeys.

The cost of your season ticket is divided by the number of journeys above to work out the value of a single journey. For example, if your weekly ticket costs £50 then this will be divided by 10 to give a rate of £5 for each single journey, a monthly of £160 would be divided by 40 to give a journey rate of £4 and so on.

Original Passenger Charter scheme 

Some train companies have yet to move to the Delay Repay scheme. They still have to offer compensation but it is handled differently. One important difference is that these train companies can exclude delays caused by events outside the control of the rail industry. This typically includes things like exceptionally bad weather, industrial action and trespass. Even if the train company is not strictly required to compensate you, it is worthwhile checking in the case of significant delay as the company may provide compensation as a gesture of goodwill.

The amount of compensation offered (and the minimum delay required) varies between operators – precise details can be found in that train company’s Passenger Charter document. But as a minimum, if you arrive 60 minutes or later at your destination you will be entitled to:

-50 per cent of the single fare
-25 per cent of the return fare (if delayed on either the outward or return legs)
-50 per cent of the return fare (if delayed on both legs).

Season tickets are handled differently. If average punctuality and reliability fall below a certain level it triggers a 5 per cent or 10 per cent discount on the cost of your season ticket when you renew. Some operators will also allow you to claim for individual delays as well. The precise arrangements and amounts differ between train companies, so it is best if you check the details for your train company in their Passenger Charter document.