Transport User Voice – September 2019 – Compensation after ‘do not travel’ advice

02 September 2019

Seeking clarity from rail operators

Last month’s editorial on ‘The great heat’ illustrated the issues encountered by rail passengers as a result of July’s heatwave. In response, Transport Focus wrote to all the train operating companies about ‘do not travel’ advice and passenger compensation. The aim of this correspondence was to urge train companies to change their Passenger Charters to make it explicit that when ‘do not travel’ advice is given, those season ticket holders who do not travel are still entitled to compensation.

Through the Transport Focus Make Delay Pay Campaign, it became clear there was a gap in Delay Repay regimes: That is, this form of compensation does not apply to season ticket holders who heed the advice not to travel (due to the fact they have not actually been delayed). In contrast, those who disregard ‘do not travel’ advice are entitled to compensation when subsequently delayed. This creates a situation that is neither sensible, nor fair, and is counter-productive to the aim of giving the advice in the first place.

In addition, the current provision fails to acknowledge that many passengers still need to travel and those seeking alternative arrangements may also encounter further inconvenience and delay.

It should be noted that some train companies did decide that those who chose not to travel on 25 July should be entitled to a full refund – the equivalent of a 2-hour delay under their Delay Repay scheme. The fact this was not the case for all train companies highlights the need for clearer guidelines across the entire network.

Transport Focus wants all train operating companies to change their Passenger Charter as soon as possible, so next time ‘do not travel’ advice is issued this compensation problem affecting season ticket holders will have been addressed. It is also asking for a change to the National Conditions of Travel – which would apply to all train companies.

The responses received so far from train companies have been largely positive:

  • Chiltern Railways proposes to amend their charter
  • Transpennine has promised to review its claims process, but is hesitant having only introduced a new Delay Repay scheme in July
  • South Western Railway said they did not issue ‘do not travel’ advice on 25 July, but when they do this they make sure they contact season ticket holders to inform them they can claim compensation
  • Southeastern was pleased to say it did offer compensation and is looking to open a discussion to revise its Passenger Charter
  • Greater Anglia also plans to review for clarity the literature surrounding instances where ‘do not travel’ advice is issued.

Transport Focus will continue to do everything it can to ensure rail operators minimise confusion arising from the passenger experience, particularly when it comes to compensation on the railways.

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