Below you will find information on your rights as a rail passenger. You might also want to check out our frequently asked questions, or find out how to complain to a train operator.


Your rights - explained

Right to a refund

If your plans change and you decide not to travel, having purchased a ticket, you can apply for a refund on most types of ticket. Full details of refund arrangements are shown in the National Rail Conditions of Travel and details about applying for a refund are shown on each train company’s website.  

The train company’s website will advise you where to apply for a refund. An administration charge of up to £10 on each ticket may be made. You must apply for the refund within 28 days of the expiry of the ticket’s validity. 

Any use made of the ticket before seeking a refund will reduce the level of refund. In some cases, (such as where the single fare is close to the return fare), no refund may be payable after payment of the administration fee. 

Some ticket types (e.g. advance) have no refund value if your plans change. You may be able to change the date and/or time of travel on an advance ticket (usually for a fee) if the booked train has not yet left. Otherwise it has no residual value. 

It may be that the train you intend to travel by is cancelled or delayed. In this case, you are entitled to a full refund of the fare and of any reservation fee if your journey has not begun and you decide not to travel. No administration charge is made. The ticket office at the station will refund the fare on the spot if it can. You must apply for the refund within 28 days of the expiry of the ticket’s validity. This applies to all ticket types, regardless of the place of issue. Advance tickets can be refunded in full under these circumstances. 

Check the details on the train company’s website. 

Season ticket refunds

Different arrangements apply to refunds on season tickets. 

The season ticket must be returned to the train company which sold it. The refund will be calculated from the day when the season ticket is handed in. To qualify for any refund, a weekly season ticket must still be valid for at least three days; a monthly or longer season ticket must still be valid for at least seven days. 

The refund will be based on the difference between the price paid and the total cost of the combination of tickets for a daily return journey until the ticket was handed in. A fee of up to £10 is also payable. The amount of the refund will depend on the length of time the ticket still has to run, so in some cases, there may be no refund payable at all if the ticket is close to its expiry date. 

Special arrangements apply if you wish to amend the details of an existing season ticket, for example, to a different journey due to moving house or job. The train company which sold you the original ticket can give you full details. 

A similar arrangement applies to Flexi Season tickets.  

A Flexi Season ticket offers eight days of travel in 28 days between two stations at any time of day. You must apply for the refund before the end of the 28-day validity period. The refund is calculated based on the difference between the price you paid for the Flexi Season and the cost of an Anytime Return ticket for each day you have used, minus an administration fee of no more than £10. This refund calculation may mean if you only have one or two journeys left on your Flexi Season you may find the ticket has no refund value. 

Right to compensation

If you are delayed you may be entitled to compensation. Each train company sets its own arrangements for compensation as a result of delays and cancellations. 

The National Rail Conditions of Travel set out the minimum levels of compensation if you are delayed by a late-running or cancelled train. Each train company sets its own level of compensation above this minimum. The amount offered will depend on the scheme operated by the train company you used, your ticket type and the length of your delay, so check the train company’s Passenger’s Charter on their website. 

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.   

Most train companies now operate a Delay Repay compensation scheme. 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, many 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 every 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 in 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 every 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 falls 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.  

Consumer rights 

In addition to the industry arrangements set out for refunds and compensation you are also able to rely on statutory rights. For example, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 provides consumers with various rights, e.g., rights where a service is not performed with reasonable care and skill. You may also be able to claim for financial losses you’ve incurred. For information regarding your rights when you are travelling as a consumer, including under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, see,  

Making delay pay for rail passengers

Before Covid-19 struck, our Make Delay Pay campaign helped raise awareness of the compensation delayed rail passengers were missing out on. In 2020 we did research with the Department for Transport that showed the proportion of passengers now claiming compensation has gone up.