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 Carriage 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 (for a fee) if the booked train has not yet left. Otherwise it has no residual value.
It may be that train you intend to travel by is cancelled or delayed or your reservation on it cannot be honoured. In this case, you are entitled to a full refund of the fare and of any reservation fee if your journey has not begun. 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 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.
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 Carriage 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 that so check the company’s Passenger’s Charter via the links below.
Heathrow Express’s compensation arrangements are shown in its Conditions of Carriage, see:https://www.heathrowexpress.com/Files/Conditions-of-carriage.pdf (under refunds).Heathrow Connect: for journeys between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport, the Heathrow Express arrangements apply (see immediately above). For journeys between London Paddington and Hayes & Harlington, the First Great Western (former Great Western Link) arrangements apply: see above.1. Individual journey tickets
Compensation schemes vary, but as a minimum, if you are one hour late at your destination station, you are entitled to:20 per cent of the price paid for a single ticket
10 per cent of the price paid for a return ticket if the delay to you is just on one leg of the journey
20 per cent of the price paid for a return ticket if both legs are delayed.
Two types of compensation scheme are in place which are generally more than the minimum set out above. They are:.Some train companies still operate the original Passenger’s Charter compensation scheme. The levels of compensation vary between train companies, as do the minimum qualifying periods. Full details are shown in each company’s Passenger’s Charter: see above. The companies are not obliged to pay compensation if the delay was caused by events outside the railway’s control: e.g. severe weather, vandalism or when emergency services close the line. But some may.
An increasing number of train companies now operate the ‘Delay Repay’ scheme. Under this you are entitled to compensation each time you are delayed at least 30 minutes, regardless of the cause. The level of compensation may increase in line with the length of the delay. You must claim – it is not paid out automatically. Details on how to claim will be on the train company’s website in its Passenger’s Charter.
For more information see the National Rail Conditions of Carriage and the company’s Passenger’s Charter (see above).In all cases:you must claim within 28 days of completing the journey;
send the ticket for that journey with your claim. No ticket often means no compensation;
compensation is usually paid in rail vouchers but if you prefer another method then request it. Some companies do undertake to pay compensation in cash.
2. Season tickets
a) Weekly season ticketsAs a minimum, if you are one hour late at your destination station, you are entitled to:20 per cent of the price of the weekly ticket divided by seven
Some companies offer compensation for delays of less than one hour.b) Monthly or longer season ticketsTrain companies’ policies differ so you should check the relevant Passenger’s Charter on their website (see above).Generally there are two types of compensation scheme:Some train companies still operate the original Passenger’s Charter compensation scheme. Under its rules, you may qualify for a discount on your next season ticket when you renew it, if the performance targets for the route or routes you travel on have not been met. This deduction from the full price should be automatically applied when you buy the next ticket, but do remember to check!
An increasing number of train companies now operate the ‘Delay Repay’ scheme. Under this you are entitled to compensation each time you are delayed at least 30 minutes, regardless of the cause. You have to make a claim – it is not paid out automatically. Details on how to claim will be on the train company’s website.
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.