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Train company in U-turn over heatwave compensation

Written by: Emma Lunn
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) initially refused to pay compensation to commuters who took its advice not to travel during the hot weather, but it has now reversed its decision.

All GTR’s four brands – Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express – urged passengers to “avoid travelling wherever possible” on 25 July when temperatures in the UK reached a record high.

Rail services were severely restricted in large parts of England as temperatures exceeding 38C damaged overhead wires and led to speed restrictions due to fears of tracks buckling.

But the train brands were split on whether passengers with an annual pass who didn’t attempt to travel were entitled to compensation. Southeastern said it would compensate all season ticket holders, but Govia Thameslink said only passengers who attempted their journey could get any money back.

But the company has now changed its mind, following a barrage of criticism.

A message on Thameslink’s website now states: “We would like to apologise for the major disruption to services on 25 July and 26 July as extremely hot weather conditions triggered a series of incidents across the network. In recognition of the severe effect on passengers we will be offering all season ticket holders compensation. Any customers who experienced delays can also claim through our Delay Repay scheme.

“If you are a season ticket holder and you did not travel on the 25 or 26 July, you are entitled to compensation. Please apply using the form below and select 120 minutes as your length of delay to ensure you receive a full day of compensation.”

Alex Hayman, Which? spokesperson, said: “Passengers who have been impacted by these delays and cancellations will be tired and frustrated and the last thing they will want to do is have to jump through hoops to get the compensation they are owed.

“If the rail system is going to work for passengers they should be automatically compensated. Anyone left stranded and forced to pay for additional expenses like a hotel or taxi because their train company is at fault may also be able to claim those losses back and should contact their train company.”

Earlier this week Transport Focus, the rail industry watchdog, said train passengers were missing out on up to £100m compensation every year by not making claims for delays.

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