If you can’t find an answer below please send us a question via the enquiry form or call Transport Focus on 0300 123 2350*.
* 03 numbers cost the same to call as geographic landline numbers (starting 01 and 02), even from a mobile phone.
Inaccessible rail stations
If you cannot use a station (for example, due to stairs, steps, or steep slopes to or from platforms) the company managing the station must pay for an accessible form of transport, such as a taxi, to take you to another station which is accessible to you, and convenient for the journey you want to make. It is important that operators ensure that the transport is accessible to you.
Make sure you specify your needs when speaking to the train operator. In some parts of the country, fully-accessible taxis are in short supply and notice is usually necessary to book one.
Is my station accessible?
National Rail Enquiries includes a section on its website titled ‘stations made easy’.
This is a database covering all stations in Great Britain providing:
- diagrams of the layout of each station and its facilities
- photographs of all facilities at the station – for example, an appropriate ticket office, waiting room, toilets, ticket machine, steps/stairs, footbridge, lifts, seating, car park, location of help points, platform shelters and so on
- the Plan a Route way-finding guide from the entrance to points within the station can assist you if you are unfamiliar with it to find your way about by using the photographs as landmarks of station geography.
In addition, a text section gives fuller details, of for instance:
- the station’s accessibility
- staffing hours when assistance can be provided
- ticket-office opening times
- details of the car-parking arrangements and set-down/pick-up points
- the availability of taxis
- how to retrieve lost property.
Any sudden changes to a station’s accessibility (perhaps a lift breakdown) which affects your ability to use it should be shown on the station profile within 24 hours of the incident.
We recommend that having checked the details on the National Rail website you confirm with the train company when booking your assistance that no changes to accessibility have taken place since the information on the website was last refreshed.
If your booked train is delayed or cancelled before your journey starts, and as a result, your travel plans will be upset, station staff should assist you. They can amend your assistance booking to allow you to travel by a later train or on another day, as you prefer. If the station is unstaffed, you should phone the company’s assistance line and explain the problem.
Your ticket will be refunded in full if you decide not to travel at all because of delay or cancellation. It can be endorsed, if necessary, for travel on a different train.
If planned engineering work affects your journey, the assistance booking staff will do what they can to minimise any inconvenience. If buses are replacing trains for part of the journey and you find them inaccessible, the company will provide you with a suitable accessible alternative over the affected part of the journey. This is irrespective of whether you have booked assistance.
Emergency engineering work is sometimes necessary. In such cases, train or station staff will assist you in revising your journey plans. Where necessary they will arrange an accessible alternative if trains are not running, and you cannot use the replacement buses. At times and depending on location, this may take some time to arrange.
Passenger assistance when travelling by train
All train operators must provide assistance to you if you are disabled, or are older and cannot travel without help, even if your impairment is not visible. The rail industry runs the Passenger Assist service. This allows you to request assistance from rail staff for your journey. It helps ensure everyone can travel by train safely, in comfort and with dignity.
The assistance offered includes:
- providing information on which stations are accessible, and the facilities at those stations
- offering help to navigate the station
- support when boarding the train, such as showing you to your seat
- arranging a ramp on or off your train
- meeting you from your train and taking you to your next train or the exit
- carrying your bag(s) – up to three items of luggage as per the National Rail Conditions of Travel.
The railway recommends that you give at least six hours’ notice for booking assistance.
However, it is not always possible to plan your journey in advance. Passengers can turn up at any station that they have identified as accessible to them and request assistance on to a train from a member of staff, or via a help point or a Freephone number where stations are unstaffed.
This service is sometimes known as ‘Turn Up And Go’ and depends on conditions at the time of your travel, such as staff availability.
The amount of notice necessary may vary between companies though it cannot be more than six hours. Some do not need any notice. All companies are required to provide a clear explanation of their assistance service in their Accessible Travel Policy.
Even if your journey involves travel on more than one company’s trains or through more than one company’s stations, the entire booking can still be arranged in a single phone call or email message to any of the companies.
All companies will do what they can to assist if you need to travel at short notice without booking, but those who have given notice will have priority.
You can buy your ticket in the same phone call if you have allowed enough time for the tickets to be delivered.
When you book assistance a unique reference number will be created for you, for that booking. Confirmation of the details booked will be sent to you (by post or email). You should check that the details are correct and reflect what help you asked for.
Rail accessible transport policies
Each train and station operator must be licenced to operate. A condition of that licence requires operators to produce an Accessible Travel Policy (ATP), which sets out their policies, commitment, and standards of service provision to disabled rail passengers. They are also required to provide an overview of the accessibility of their trains and stations. The policy documents cover a broad range of topics, from the arrangements if alternative transport is necessary, to the accessibility training given to staff.
In addition to each policy document operators are required to produce a Passenger Leaflet entitled Making rail accessible: Helping older and disabled passengers.
The leaflet should set out what disabled, and older passengers can expect at different stages of the journey and if things do not go as planned.
Each operator should provide copies of the full policy document and leaflet on their website, and details of how to request alternative formats. It may also be possible to obtain a copy of the leaflets at some staffed stations.
Further detail on the guidance that operators are required to meet can be found on the website of the Office of Road and Rail.
Rail industry websites to help disabled passengers
- Disabled persons railcard
- National Rail Enquiries information on passenger assist
Transport Focus and accessibility
Transport Focus supports work to improve accessibility on rail, bus, coach, and tram, and across the Strategic Road Network. We ensure that the views of transport users help drive positive change.
Some of our activity in this area has included:
- Conducting research to understand how the Covid 19 pandemic has impacted the experience and attitudes of disabled transport users. It looked at the impact of disability on work and other opportunities, the differing perceptions of safety and views on assistance lanyards schemes used to discreetly inform people that the wearer needs a bit more support or time.
- Checking in detail the draft Accessible Travel Policies (ATPS) for newly licenced rail operators or those with new franchise awards and suggesting improvements where appropriate. We also review ATPS where there has been a substantive change to existing policies that impact the assistance provided to passengers.
- Encouraging all operators to adopt best practice and suggesting enhancements to existing guidance issued by industry bodies such as the Rail Safety Standards Board.
- Meeting transport providers and industry bodies to discuss accessibility matters.
- Researching the design of new trains and gaining passengers’ views.
In our regular tracker surveys on train, bus and tram we ask passengers whether they are affected by any physical or mental health conditions or illness lasting or expected to last more than 12 months. This enables us to draw extra details from the data to inform us of the experience of disabled passengers using the transport network. In our other research projects, we try and ensure the views of disabled transport users are captured and analysed. Where there are significant differences, for example, in satisfaction, between disabled and non-disabled transport users we will highlight this when reporting the results.
Data for each of our tracker surveys is available on our website here and can be split by disabled and non-disabled to show any differences in experience.
How to request assistance using Passenger Assist
Each operator will advertise its passenger assistance booking number on its website; alternatively, you can call National Rail Enquiries (NRE) for free on 0800 0223720 or text 60083. For textphone/minicom, please dial 0845 60 50 600.
If you tell NRE the journey you want to make, they will then transfer you to the right train company who will confirm your booking request. For text and textphone, they’ll send you an instant text message with the number you need to dial from your textphone unit.
Alternatively, National Rail Enquiries has introduced Passenger Assistance by Transreport – a new app that allows you to request assistance via an internet-enabled smartphone. You will then receive a confirmation email once your request has been checked and confirmed. You can find out more about the app on their Passenger Assistance by Transreport page.
Can I take my mobility scooter onto the train?
Each company sets its own rules for carrying scooters so check with them before you attempt to travel. Full details are given in each company’s Accessible Travel Policy, online or call their accessibility assistance phone line. Ensure that all the stations you wish to use have step-free access.
Many companies will carry non-folded mobility scooters, generally the smaller, lighter and more manoeuvrable types. Even so, the company may not let you take them on all trains or all routes.
Some train companies will only carry your scooter if you hold a scooter permit issued by them. Other train operators will convey only your scooter if it is folded down and placed in the luggage rack. In many cases staff will not lift them into or out of the train; you or your companion will need to do this.
For more details see National Rail Enquiries. The same rules on maximum weight and size as for wheelchairs apply to scooters: not longer than 120cm, not wider than 70cm and total weight of up to 300kg for scooter and rider. Some ramps can only carry up to 230kg.
In many cases train companies expect scooter users to reserve a space to accommodate the scooter – usually with at least 24 hours’ notice. You may have to transfer to a fixed seat on the train; the company will advise you.
You can buy tickets at the station (from the ticket office or the ticket machine), online or by telephone before you make the journey. In some cases you can choose to collect your tickets from the ticket machine at some stations; you will be given a reference number and instructions for this. Some types of ticket can be printed at home or stored electronically on a device such as a mobile phone. Make sure that you understand the conditions applying to these tickets before you pay for one.
Reductions are available for many disabled passengers. See the Reduced-rate fares for disabled passengers pages.
You must hold a valid ticket or have authority to travel by train. However, if no means of buying a ticket or obtaining authority (for instance a permit to travel) is provided at the station where your journey starts, or if the ticket office there is closed and the ticket machines are out of order, you can pay during or at the end of your journey, without incurring a penalty fare.
Even where booking offices are open or ticket machines are available, you may not be able to use them if:
- you are travelling alone and your visual impairment prevents you using a ticket machine;
- your ability to operate the machine by touching the screen or pressing buttons effectively or accurately is considerably reduced; or
- if the ticket machine or ticket office is located a long distance from the platform where your journey begins and your shorter way to the platform does not pass it or you can reach it only after a long or awkward route (e.g. having to use stairs or steep slopes).
In cases such as these, you may pay during or at the end of your journey without incurring a penalty fare.
You can find in the company’s Making rail accessible – helping older and disabled passengers DPPP document or on the website, if its ticket machines are accessible to you, which stations have accessible machines and if they can issue tickets with a DPRC reduction for both you as railcard holder and for the person travelling with you. No penalty is due either if the machines cannot issue both types of ticket and you have to pay the correct fare on the train.
Many stations are having accessible ticket counters fitted. If you cannot use the counter or if you cannot get inside the ticket office (e.g. due to steps or a narrow doorway) staff should come out from behind the counter to serve you. If they do not do so, you may pay during the journey.
Full details of station accessibility (including ticket offices and ticket machines, staff availability to assist, car parks, toilets etc) can be found either on the National Rail website or on each train company’s website, or by phoning the company’s Passenger Assist helpline.
Several companies are trying to improve their ticket machines so that you can use them even if you have a visual impairment.
You may find it more convenient to buy your ticket online or over the telephone. All train companies provide facilities for this. If you are booking assistance and time permits, you may prefer to buy your tickets and make reservations and assistance-booking requests in a single transaction by phone. Any of the train companies involved in your journey can do this for you.
If your booked passenger assistance fails
At the departure station
If staff do not meet you at the time or place booked, find another member of staff if possible – the ticket office or at the ticket gate is usually best. If this is unsuccessful, use the help point if one is available or phone the company’s assistance helpline and explain the problem.
Getting on (or off) the train
If you are not confident to do so, we do not recommend that you try and get on or off the train alone. You should always be wary of other passengers attempting to assist you; they may be well-intentioned but may not be able to assist you properly or advise the best way to board or alight.
With a wheelchair
We advise against attempting to get a wheelchair on or off a train unless properly deployed ramps are available – unless the floor of the train is absolutely level with the platform. You should be wary of accepting assistance from untrained fellow passengers.
Always check when getting on the train that the ramps are located at the doorway nearest to the space designated for wheelchairs. The appropriate doorway should be marked by a recognisable version of the ‘wheelchair’ pictogram.
On the platform
If you feel that you may have been forgotten about, try and attract the attention of a member of staff or ask another passenger to do so. Use the help point if one is available or phone the company’s assistance helpline if you cannot find staff.
On the train
If staff are available on the train try and attract their attention as they pass through the coach or ask a fellow passenger to try and find them. Use the intercom, if provided, to speak to on-train staff or phone the company’s assistance helpline.
If you had booked assistance for your train journey and it was not provided as you requested, or not provided at all, you may be able to claim compensation. This can apply whether you were delayed or not. Each train operating company should make this clear in their Accessible Travel Policy. Check the policy of the company you booked with.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint or you do not feel the train company handled it appropriately, then you can contact the Rail Ombudsman.
Travelling with an assistance dog
Any passenger can take a dog on the train. No separate ticket is required for up to two dogs for each passenger holding a ticket. No special requirement has to be made in the case of assistance dogs.
However, if booking assistance, always tell the Passenger Assist staff if you have an assistance dog. This will enable them to ensure that suitable space is made available for the dog away from the aisle if no space is available beneath your seat. Some companies will reserve the seat next to yours so that your dog has space to lie down on the floor.
Dogs are generally not permitted in catering vehicles, but assistance dogs may enter them with you.
Similarly, an assistance dog can travel with you in sleeping-car accommodation. No additional charge over the fare and sleeper fee is made for this but you must advise the assistance helpline when you book.
Priority seat cards
Several train companies now issue priority seat cards to passengers with a proven medical need. You should apply to the relevant train company for a card if you think that you are entitled. Fuller details will be given in each company’s Accessible Travel Policy.
No charge is made to issue priority seat cards.
These cards enable you to demonstrate your need without having to explain your disability and need to sit down to strangers. The card is especially useful if you have a non-visible disability and if the train has no on-board staff.
Again, it is not a fool-proof guarantee that other passengers will stand to let you sit down if all seats are occupied, but does simplify the task of explanation and entitlement. If you hold a priority seat card you must still buy a valid ticket. A priority seat card does not entitle you to a reduced fare; you need a separate Railcard for that purpose.
Most trains now have seating, marked as ‘priority’, which is intended for those passengers in greatest need of a seat: for instance, people with a disability, older passengers, expectant mothers or those carrying infants; or those with a broken limb. It is a legal requirement to provide these seats in new trains. Purpose-built priority seats are located close to doors, are more easily accessible than some other seats and provide space beneath them for an assistance dog.
You can book priority seats for many longer-distance journeys. On many suburban trains and those making shorter journeys often no seats are reservable.
A priority seat can be used by any passenger but should be given up if needed by another with greater need. However, the law does not require other passengers to give up priority seats and staff have no legal power to move them – unless you have a specific seat reservation for that seat.
Reduced-rate fares for disabled passengers
Disabled Persons Railcard
Certain types of disability entitle you to a Disabled Persons Railcard (DPRC). See if you qualify; full details are available on the DPRC website, by phone from any of the train operators’ assistance helplines or pick up a leaflet at the station.
The Railcard offers you up to 34% reduction (50% off to a child holder) and 34% to an adult making the same journey with you, on all general ticket types in either first or standard class. DPRCs must be applied for by post or online. They cannot be bought at stations.
Ticket types available
|Visually-impaired passenger if accompanied. Both passengers qualify for the reduction
Anytime Single or Return
Anytime Day Return
|Wheelchair user in own chair, accompanied or alone. If accompanied, both passengers qualify for the reduction.|
* Undercuts the Railcard-based 34% reduction.
These reductions are allowed only on Anytime Singles or Returns and Anytime Day Returns and only if:
- You are visually impaired and accompanied. Documentary evidence of your disability must be shown at the ticket office. No reduction applies if you travel alone.
- You use your own wheelchair and remain in it throughout the journey may benefit from the same reduction alone, or with a companion, who also receives the same reduction.
These fares predate the DPRC and today’s fare structure. They cannot be bought from ticket machines. If a ticket machine is the only retailing means at the station, passengers may pay the fare during the journey without penalty.
It may be cheaper to buy full-price Off-peak Returns or Advance tickets than to use these reductions on Anytime fares. Check your options at the ticket office, with National Rail (08457 484950; www.nationalrail.co.uk) or with the company concerned before you buy.
Season tickets for visually-impaired passengers
A visually-impaired adult or child who cannot travel alone can apply for an adult season ticket which is endorsed to allow two people to travel for the price of one. You must provide documentary evidence of your entitlement.
The ticket carries the photocard details of the visually-impaired person; the companion needs no other authority to make the same journey. Any companion can travel on any day but the two passengers must travel together.
Wheelchair spaces on trains
The type of spaces for wheelchairs varies between train types.
On new or refurbished trains, the wheelchair space is close to the accessible toilet, where provided, and may have a table and usually a call-for-help button next to it. Some older trains may lack the table and help button, but will provide a dedicated space, usually just inside the passenger seating area. A few newer trains accommodate wheelchairs in a separate part of the train but in dedicated spaces. If a backrest for the wheelchair is provided you should ensure that your wheelchair is correctly positioned against it and that its brakes are applied.
You cannot generally take onto trains a wheelchair that is wider than 70cm, longer than 120cm or which weighs more than 300kg when you are in it.
Some wheelchair spaces may have tip-up seats in them that other passengers can use if the wheelchair space is not occupied. They must give up these seats to enable the wheelchair to fit properly into the space.
For some journeys, it is possible to reserve a wheelchair space. Some companies do not reserve any accommodation on some or all of their trains and on those services, which are usually frequent, wheelchairs are carried on first-come first-served basis.
Fuller details are shown in each company’s Accessible Travel Policy. If you cannot find the information you need, contact the train company.
A wheelchair will generally not be carried if the designated wheelchair space is occupied. It is potentially dangerous to you and to other passengers and staff if the wheelchair is left in areas of the train (for instance in the doorway vestibules) which are not intended for them.
How do I make a bus or coach complaint?
We are unable to help passengers with specific complaints about bus and coach (scheduled domestic) services. However there are other organisations that will be able to help you.
Visit our Bus Complaints page for information on who to contact in your area.
Where can I find bus related research?
For bus related research visit our Bus Research & Publications section.
Complaints and advice
When can Transport Focus become involved in my complaint?
Many types of unresolved complaints will be ‘in scope’ for The Rail Ombudsman, but not all.
For full information on the role and operation of The Rail Ombudsman visit the scheme website. The Ombudsman will probably focus more on complaints about failure in service delivery and information.
Transport Focus will continue to help passengers resolve complaints that fall outside the scope of scheme. In particular, Transport Focus will continue to focus on the specification of services which train companies cannot necessarily effect – Government sets out through the franchises much of the detail around what is purchased by way of services on the railway from train operating companies.
How will Transport Focus deal with my complaint?
If your complaint is passed to Transport Focus, it undertakes a full and fair investigation into your comments and complaint. It will consider whether the response you received from the company met the following criteria:
- answered all of the issues that you raised in your complaint
- was factual and contained accurate information
- explained how the train company will attempt to prevent a reoccurrence of your complaint, or how it is working to tackle the problem
- was a personalised reply to your own concerns
- offered, where appropriate, a level of redress/reimbursement that was appropriate to your complaint and within industry national guidelines
- was clear and easy to understand
- was handled within the timescales set by the train company.
If Transport Focus does not think that the company has handled your complaint appropriately then they will ask it to reconsider. If necessary Transport Focus will raise the issue with the management of the company.
You can read a copy of Transport Focus’s own Customer Complaints Handling Procedure
How long does it take for Transport Focus to deal with my complaint?
If you contact Transport Focus in writing (via the website, by email, post or fax):
- Transport Focus will aim to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence within five working days of receiving it
- if you contacted Transport Focus before contacting the train company concerned, your complaint will be forwarded within five working days and the company will be asked to respond to you directly
- if you want Transport Focus to make a representation on your behalf to a train company, then it will investigate your complaint with the train company concerned and aim to respond to you with the outcome within 35 working days. If this is not possible then you will be kept informed about what Transport Focus is doing.
If you contact Transport Focus by telephone, the complaints team will:
- aim to answer at least 95 per cent of telephone calls that they receive, with at least 85 per cent answered within 20 seconds
- will return your call within 24 hours or when Transport Focus is next open for business, if you can’t get through to an advisor and you leave a message
- will handle your call in a professional, polite and helpful manner
- will keep you informed during the course of the call and explain what is being done if you are placed on hold.
How do I contact Transport Focus?
Use this webform or call Transport Focus on 0300 123 2350.
Calls charged at local rates (and may be recorded).
Our expert advisors will help you find the information you need. If you want to make a complaint about a journey, please see the Transport User Advice page.
Write to Transport Focus (the address is freepost, so you don’t need to use a stamp):
RTEH-XAGE-BYKZ Transport Focus PO Box 5594 Southend on Sea SS1 9PZ
I want to make a complaint about Transport Focus. How do I do this?
Transport Focus aims to handle all passenger contacts efficiently and bring all complaints to a satisfactory resolution. Unfortunately there may be times when it is not possible to achieve the outcome you want, even though your complaint has been handled in line with Transport Focus procedures.
For further information about making a complaint about Transport Focus please see see our Customer Complaints handling procedure.
What will Transport Focus do with my complaint?
If you are unhappy with the way the rail industry has handled your complaint, or you are unhappy with the outcome, we may be able to help. We will review your case and decide if we can escalate your complaint with the rail company. We describe this as an ‘appeal complaint’.
We have a team which handles passenger complaints and escalates issues with train operators. Our senior advisors will negotiate with the company, seeking the best possible outcome for your case, based on the merits of your complaint. Wherever possible your complaint will be dealt with by the same advisor throughout.
What if my complaint is about a journey solely within London?
If you have a complaint about rail services which are operated wholly within the London area, we will forward your complaint to our sister watchdog, London TravelWatch. This is the official organisation representing the interests of transport users in and around London. If you have submitted your complaint to us, but it is within the London TravelWatch remit, we will forward this and let you know.
We also cannot deal with complaints about the London Underground. The customer service contact details for Transport for London can be found at:
Can Transport Focus help me with my complaint?
Anyone can complain to us about passenger rail services in Great Britain. However, if your complaint is regarding a specific journey , you must speak to the train operator first. After following its complaints handling process, and either getting a response or no response after 35 working days, you can escalate your complaint to Transport Focus.
We can also become involved in issues that relate to other forms of transport if there is a dedicated link between the form of transport and the railway, for example a dedicated bus link into a railway service for which you can buy one ‘through’ ticket.
We can also deal with matters relating to the Tyne and Wear Metro (Nexus) and Manchester Metrolink.
What does Transport Focus do with my comments and feedback?
Your feedback is important as it helps Transport Focus to identify areas where services can be improved and to prioritise the issues that matter to passengers.
Transport Focus reviews the information and issues that passengers raise through its handling of individual complaints so that it can identify trends or issues which affect rail passengers. This helps to shape the work that the organisation does in influencing change within the rail industry.
Fares and ticketing
Can I board a train without a ticket?
The National Rail Conditions of Travel state that you must always have a valid ticket before boarding a train, unless:
a) You could not buy a ticket because there was no means to do so at the station (e.g. no ticket office open or no working ticket machine). This also applies if the Permit to Travel machine was out of order.
b) An authorised person (e.g. train company staff member) or notice from the train company gave you permission to travel without a valid ticket. We recommend that you make a note of the name of the member of staff who advises you that you can board without a ticket.
c) You have a disability and ticket purchasing arrangements at the station you are departing from are not suitably accessible.
In these cases, you must, as soon as you are reasonably able, buy an appropriate ticket to complete your journey. This includes buying a ticket from the conductor on the train if there is one available; at an interchange station provided there is sufficient time before your connecting service; or, if neither of these is possible, at your destination.
Can I board a train if the ticket office queue is too long?
The rail industry standards on queuing time are that operators must make “reasonable endeavours” so that no one has to queue for more than five minutes during peak periods and three minutes during off-peak periods. A sign at the station should advise when peak periods occur. If you decide to board a train without a ticket, as the queue at the ticket office and/or ticket machine was too long and by queuing you would miss the train, it is advisable to get permission from station staff and/or seek out the conductor aboard the train and explain the situation. If you are given permission to board without a ticket we recommend that you take the name of the member of staff.
If you do get on the train without having bought a ticket and there were facilities to pay, or you did not get permission from station staff to get on without a ticket, you may be prosecuted for fare evasion, charged the full fare for the journey or issued with a penalty fare.
If I’m stranded at a station with no money can anyone help?
If you are stranded at a station with no means to pay for a ticket, an arrangement may be made for somebody else to pay for a ticket for you under the so-called ‘SILK’ arrangement. Payment can only be made in person at a station and only full-price Anytime Single tickets can be purchased. There is an administration fee to use this service.
The ability to make this arrangement requires a staffed ticket office at the station where the ticket is paid for and at the station where it is to be issued.
If you are stranded because of circumstances within the control of a rail company, the company should help you. This may involve arranging alternative transport (usually rail replacement buses or taxis), providing overnight accommodation, or getting you to another convenient station from which you can travel.
Do my children need train tickets?
Up to two children under the age of five can accompany each fare-paying passenger free of charge. However, children under the age of five who are travelling free can only occupy a seat if it is not required by a passenger who has paid for their fare.
Children between the ages of five and fifteen are entitled to a discount of at least 50% on most tickets. Some train companies also offer a cheaper flat fare for accompanied children.
People of 16 and over must have an adult ticket.
A penalty fare can be issued in the case of children travelling without a valid ticket or authority.
Can ticket restrictions change during times of serious delay or cancellation?
At times of severe disruption ticket conditions may be relaxed. However, this must be clarified with the train operator before boarding a different train.
What happens if I lose (or find) something on the train?
If you have lost something on a train or at a station you should contact the rail company who you travelled with or the station operator.
Although rail companies have no liability for your lost property, they will take reasonable care of any items found and try to reunite you with your missing items, which are often sent to a central point.
There may be a charge for storing your property and returning it to you which depends on the type of item and the length of time it has been held. At most this will be £2 per day or up to £30. Perishable items and any which the rail company believes may cause injury or inconvenience will be disposed of immediately. Unclaimed items can be sold after three months.
Rail companies do not offer compensation unless the loss or damage was caused by the neglect or default of the company or its staff. Full details are contained in the National Rail Conditions of Travel.
If you find an apparently lost item on a station or train you should hand it to a member of staff.
Refunds and compensation
I left my season ticket at home and had to purchase another ticket. Can I claim a refund for the extra ticket I purchased?
If you do not have your season ticket or photocard with you when asked by train company staff, you will be treated as having boarded the train without a ticket. You should buy an appropriate ticket for that day’s travel. If you later take the season ticket, photocard and the extra tickets you purchased, or the penalty fares notice issued, to the relevant train operating company, it may refund any fares paid less a reasonable administration charge. No more than two such claims will be considered in any 12 months.
If you use a Flexi Season ticket and you lose or forget your ticket (Smartcard or app on a phone) you will need to purchase a new ticket in order to make your journey. You will not be able to claim a refund for the extra ticket. If you have a Flexi Season ticket on an app on your phone, you can download the app on to a new device and still access your account, including your tickets.
Am I eligible for compensation if my train is delayed (including season tickets)?
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.
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:
|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.
Can I claim consequential loss accrued as a result of a delay (e.g. missed flights, social/business meetings)?
A train company’s compensation scheme typically covers compensation up to the value of the ticket price. There are times, however, when you may suffer an extra loss due to the delay, such as a missed flight, theatre performance or business meeting. At such times you may be able to rely on statutory rights to make such a claim – for example, by using the Consumer Rights Act 2015. For information regarding your consumer rights see https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights
In times of delay, you can ask station staff for help as they may be able to arrange alternative transport provided you have left a reasonable amount of time for this. If you choose to arrange your own transport you may well not be able to claim these costs back.
I have lost my season ticket. Can I get it replaced or refunded?
If you lose or mislay a Season Ticket (or it is stolen) the Train Company will arrange for a duplicate Season Ticket to be issued provided that:
- the lost season ticket is valid for at least a month,
- you report the loss as soon as you can ,
- you agree to return the lost season ticket immediately if you find it and you pay an administrative charge (which will not exceed £20).
If you subsequently lose or mislay your duplicate Season Ticket or it is stolen, then a further duplicate Season Ticket(s) can be issued on the same basis as your first duplicate Season Ticket. However, you may be asked to attend a meeting with the Train Company or Licensed Retailer concerned to explain the circumstances in which your duplicate Season Ticket(s) was lost.
Train companies reserve the right to refuse to issue duplicate Season Tickets if they have reasonable grounds to believe that such requests are being made fraudulently.
Can I get a refund if I decide not to travel as my train is delayed or cancelled?
If your train is running late or cancelled and you decide not to travel, you can claim a full refund from the train company or retailer that sold you the ticket. If you bought it from a ticket office you can return it to claim an immediate refund. If not, check the train company or retailer’s website to find out how to claim.
I didn’t use my train ticket, and the reason for this was not the fault of the train company. Can I get a refund?
If you have not used a ticket and want a refund then the following applies to different tickets:
- Single and Return tickets – most tickets can be refunded if they are wholly unused and returned no later than 28 days after the expiry of the ticket’s validity. An administration fee is usually charged. Check with the train company or ticket retailer that sold you the ticket.
- Advance tickets – these are not refundable at all unless the train is delayed or cancelled and you decide not to travel. The date of travel can be changed if the booked train has not yet departed and an administration fee and any difference in fare is paid. If you choose not to use an Advance ticket at all, other than if the train is delayed or cancelled, it has no refund value.
- A Season ticket – if you have a season ticket that, on issue, was valid for one month or more, and you want to replace this and buy another season ticket for a different journey, you will be entitled to a refund on the original ticket, calculated pro-rata to the number of days of validity remaining when the ticket is handed in and taking any administration fee into account. The new ticket’s validity must begin the day after the original ticket was handed in and be for a period at least as long as the original ticket.
If you hand in a season ticket as you no longer intend to use it, the cost of the tickets which you would have had to buy will be deducted from the amount paid and an administration fee will be charged. The refund is not calculated on a pro-rata basis and towards the end of the ticket, may have little refund value.
I have lost my ticket. Can I get it replaced or refunded?
A ticket is evidence of your right to make a rail journey and its safekeeping is your responsibility. Train companies are under no obligation to reissue tickets at no charge to you and usually refuse to do so. If you do find yourself in this position then speak to on-train or station staff immediately.
If you cannot produce a valid ticket when asked, you may be liable to an additional charge or penalty. Please see What can happen if I am on a train without a valid ticket?
Which roads do you cover?
Transport Focus represents the interests of users of England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads, known as the strategic road network (SRN). These are the trunk roads managed by National Highways (previously called Highways England) on behalf of the Government. We don’t cover roads managed by councils, Transport for London or those in Scotland and Wales.
Are you just interested in car drivers?
Yes, but not only car drivers. Transport Focus represents the interests of all users of National Highways’ roads. That includes those driving or travelling in a car, van, lorry, bus or coach – and also those riding a motorbike. Also included, where permitted to use National Highways’ roads, are cyclists, pedestrians and equestrians.
What exactly is your role as the road user watchdog?
We find out what those who use National Highways’ roads think about the experience and what they want improved. We measure road user satisfaction, mainly through our Strategic Roads User Survey (SRUS). We use what road users tell us to help National Highways better meet the needs of its customers. We make recommendations to them and check that they have acted.
What is the strategic road network?
England’s strategic road network (SRN) is around 4,300 miles of motorways and major ‘A’ roads. That’s around two per cent of all roads in England by length, but the SRN carries a third of all traffic by mileage – and two–thirds of all heavy goods vehicles in England by mileage. Click here to see which roads are part of the SRN.
How do I complain about National Highways?
First, you should contact National Highways directly. If you are not satisfied with their response, you can use their complaints procedure. If you think National Highways has not resolved the matter satisfactorily, you could ask your Member of Parliament (MP) to contact them on your behalf or ask your MP to refer your complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).
Who runs our roads?
Most roads in Great Britain are managed by councils, including London Boroughs. Where there is a two-tier local government structure, the County Council is responsible for roads. The more significant roads, including most motorways, are provided by central government – they are called trunk roads. In England, they are managed by National Highways, in Wales by Welsh Government and in Scotland by Transport Scotland. Transport for London is responsible for major routes – red routes – in London.
Who polices our roads?
The relevant police force is responsible for enforcing road traffic law, not the body managing the road. To contact them, dial 101 for non-emergencies and dial 999 in an emergency.
Do you cover toll roads?
Some of them. The Dartford Crossing is managed by National Highways, so yes. The M6 Toll is a privately-owned motorway, so no. There are a small number of toll tunnels or bridges which link one part of the SRN with another, but we do not cover these as they are run by councils and not National Highways.
Do you cover things like the price of fuel, parking, insurance etc?
No, our role relates to how well National Highways and the SRN it manages meets the needs of road users.
Do you cover safety?
Yes, safety is an important consumer issue.
What is Transport Focus’ status?
Transport Focus is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by, but separate from, the Department for Transport (DfT).
I live next to the strategic road network. Do you represent my interests?
Yes and no. Yes, in terms of your experience as a user of a National Highways road, whether in a vehicle, riding a bike or on foot. No, in the sense of the SRN being your ‘neighbour’ and how that impacts you as a resident.
Can I get compensation if my reserved seat is not honoured and I am forced to stand?
If you have reserved a seat and have to stand for all or part of the journey, the train company will typically offer you some or all of your money back. The precise amount will be set out in its Passenger Charter. If you have paid a fee for your seat reservation this will also be refunded.
To be eligible for this compensation you need to contact the train company you travelled with within 28 days of completing the journey, and produce a ticket and reservation valid for the journey.
You also have the right to a full refund if you decide not to travel because your seat reservation was not honoured.
When can I reserve a seat?
Reservations can be made at the time of purchase or later if you produce your ticket. However, reservations are not available on all trains or routes. There may be a charge for this service.
Am I entitled to a seat on a train?
You will only be entitled to a seat on your train if you have made a reservation. Some services are known to be particularly busy and you are advised to reserve a seat. If possible check when booking to see if this applies to your journey.
Is my reservation still valid on another train if my train is cancelled?
If your train is cancelled, the seat reservation does not apply on another train.
If a reservation which you have paid for is not honoured you can claim a refund of that fee.
Ticket inspection penalties
What can happen if I am on a train without a valid ticket?
If you do not have a valid ticket or a valid reason for not having one and you board the train, the train company has a number of options:
The full fare can be charged for your journey
Under the National Rail Conditions of Travel, you could be charged the full fare for the journey. Typical examples of being found aboard a train with an invalid ticket include: where you have a ticket but have forgotten your Railcard; or where you have an Off-peak ticket but travel in the peak; or where you have an Advance ticket but are on the wrong train. In some instances you may be charged the full Anytime (peak hours) fare; in others, it may be the cheapest fare available for journeys made at that time.
If staff on the train consider that your ticket is not valid and that a full fare should be charged you can pay immediately and then, if desired, complain to the train operating company to seek redress. If you do not have the means to pay immediately – or if you choose to complain/appeal before paying – the inspector can issue an Unpaid Fare Notice (UFN). This is not a fine or a penalty but an ‘invoice’ for the fare for the train you are on. An Unpaid Fares Notice is different from a Penalty Fare.
You can be issued a Penalty Fare
Penalty fares were originally introduced to tackle ticketless travel on suburban services whose frequent stops made effective on-train ticket examination impractical. They have since been introduced to other services. They require the passenger to provide a valid reason for not having a ticket. Penalty fares are not in use on all train routes, and where they are in use signs at stations should make this clear to passengers.
If you are in a designated Penalty Fares area and you are not able to produce a valid ticket for inspection you are liable to pay either twice the full Single fare to the next station at which the train is due to stop or £20, whichever is the greater. Any travel beyond that next station will be charged at the full Single fare. You can pay the penalty fare on the spot although you do have 21 days in which to pay. If you feel that you should not have been issued a penalty fare you may appeal. Details of the appeals procedure are shown on the penalty fare notice issued to you.
Prosecution for fare evasion
The Railway Byelaws make it an offence to travel without holding a valid ticket and being able to show it on request. A breach of this bylaw is a criminal offence and, if found guilty, you would be subject to a fine An operator can also prosecute for ‘intent to avoid a rail fare’ under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889, s.5 (3) and you may be fined or sentenced to imprisonment for up to three months.
If you are being prosecuted you may wish to seek legal advice
I have been issued an Unpaid Fare Notice; what happens now?
You will usually have 21 days in which to pay an Unpaid Fare Notice (UFN), but you should carefully check the wording on the notice to be sure.
Details of how you can appeal will also be contained on the notice.
If a debt remains unpaid the operator can pursue payment through the usual civil process for unpaid debts (e.g. a debt collection agency). This is a civil rather than a criminal law action but it can nonetheless affect the person’s credit rating and the operating company does have the option of reverting to criminal prosecution for breach of bylaws.
Can I appeal against a Penalty Fare and what is the process?
If you are issued with a Penalty Fares notice you have 21 days to appeal against it or to pay it. The address/process is set out in the paperwork handed to you by the revenue inspector. If the appeal is upheld you do not have to pay the penalty, only the outstanding fare.
If the appeal is rejected then the appeal body will write to you asking for payment within a set time (usually about 14 days). It is only after this point that administration charges are applied.
I want to make a complaint about Transport Focus. How do I do this?
Transport Focus aims to handle all passenger contacts efficiently and bring all complaints to a satisfactory resolution. Unfortunately there may be times when it is not possible to achieve the outcome you want, even though your complaint has been handled in line with Transport Focus procedures.
For further information about making a complaint about Transport Focus please see see our Customer Complaints handling procedure.