Transport User Voice – May 2020 – Coronavirus and refunds

27 April 2020

Getting your money back to you

With the country in lockdown we want to make sure rail passengers know their refund rights for tickets they can no longer use.

After successfully pressing for changes to the usual terms and conditions to allow full refunds on Advance tickets, Transport Focus called for clarity and reassurance for rail season ticket holders. The welcome decision by governments and the rail industry to backdate season ticket refunds to March 17 (unless used since) is now, as a result of our work, backed by much clearer information.

Many passengers who have followed the official work from home advice since 16 March will have faced two dilemmas. Claim a refund or wait in case they had to return to work, and return to the station or wait for train companies to confirm arrangements for claiming a refund online. More information on how transport operators have been communicating about refunds is available in our table.

We’re now pleased every train company has provided an online claim mechanism and made a clear commitment to backdate refunds to 17 March. This provides assurance that there’s no need to visit a station and that the refund received will not be affected by how quickly claims are processed. We are now looking at the backlog of claims held by some train companies and the clarity of information provided to help manage expectations and further reduce anxiety.

For now it’s vital we all continue to stay at home, but there are lessons to be learned for when more people return to regular travel. We pushed Government and train companies for a better deal for season ticket holders. We know that many people will be unhappy at the way their refund was calculated and know that many ticketholders would have preferred to ‘pause’ their ticket rather than seek a refund. The traditional season ticket may not be attractive for some time if passengers continue to face uncertainty and need flexibility.

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