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Easier passenger train delay compensation rules proposed

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Passengers impacted by train delays should find it easier to claim compensation following proposals announced by the rail regulator.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has proposed a new licence condition for train companies which will require them to provide clear information about passengers’ entitlement to compensation both before and during their journey.

As part of the proposals, ORR is consulting on the following measures:

  • Simplifying and making the process quicker for passengers to submit claims for delay compensation via a standard timescale for processing a claim, and the information required. It’s currently one month (20 working days) from claim submission to decision but the ORR will look at tightening this to 10 or 15 days. Further, requests for more information relating to a claim should be made within five working days.
  • Train companies to improve and innovate by analysing performance data and publishing their findings, such as volume of delay compensation claims received, and approved, value of total delay compensation paid and average time for claims to be processed.
  • Train companies to treat delay claims submitted by ticket retailers and intermediaries – such as those helping people make a claim for commission or a subscription fee – on the same basis as claims submitted by passengers.

These new standards will be set out in a new code of practice. It comes as figures reveal that in 2019/20, there were 6.3 million delay compensation claims closed by train companies in the UK, an increase of 17.6% compared to the previous year.

However, data shows only a third of passengers eligible for compensation actually made a claim.

This ‘compensation gap’, between those who could claim compensation and those that actually do so, has stayed the same in recent years. The low claim uptake is blamed on many passengers not knowing when they are eligible to claim. The ORR said the claims process is confusing and train companies operate different schemes.

Stephanie Tobyn, deputy director for consumers at ORR, said: “These proposed reforms will make it as easy as possible for people to better claim delay compensation, protect the interests of passengers and promote positive behaviours amongst train companies.

“Providing compensation when a passenger has experienced a delay to their journey is one way in which the train company is able to demonstrate to the passenger that it recognises it has failed to provide the service that the passenger expected. It builds trust, and can provide a tangible acknowledgement of where the industry has fallen short.”

The consultation closes on 28 August and the ORR expects to introduce the new licence condition early next year.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog, Transport Focus, said: “Too often passengers are left in the dark about their right to claim compensation on a delayed train. It’s high time it was made easier for passengers to get what they are entitled to.

“The proposed measures from the regulator, many of which we have pushed for, will go a long way to making it easier to claim. However, the government must go further to deliver on its promise of ‘one-click’ compensation and make the process automated for passengers.”

Delay Repay

A number of compensation schemes operate across Great Britain. Depending on which train operator passengers travel on, the most common means through which they claim compensation is the national Delay Repay scheme.

Currently compensation applies for delays over 30 minutes with most train companies. But with some rail firms you can claim for delays of 15 minutes or more.

To claim compensation, complete Transport Focus’ Delay Repay online form for the train company’s website, or pick up a paper form at the station.