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Your right to a refund if travel is affected by train strikes

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Written by: Rebecca Goodman
01/02/2023
There have been a wave of train strikes in the past six months, and the fresh round of walkouts take place today (1 February), and Friday (3 February). Here are your refund rights if you're impacted by the industrial action.

In a day dubbed ‘Walkout Wednesday’, workers across different industries are taking part in strike action in a row over pay and conditions.

If you’re travelling by train today, your journey is likely to be affected by the industrial action by both the train drivers’ union ASLEF and workers under the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).

The train/rail strike action will also take place on Friday 3 February, and it also means services may start later on days following walkouts as they’ll be at different depots from the usual timetable.

National Rail said this is likely to affect numerous train companies across Britain, with the following confirming there will be no services running on either strike day:

  • Avanti West Coast
  • Chiltern Railways
  • CrossCountry
  • East Midlands Railway
  • Gatwick Express
  • Great Northern
  • Heathrow Express
  • London Northwestern Railway
  • Northern
  • Southeastern
  • Southern
  • Thameslink
  • South Western Railway Island Line services
  • TransPennine Express
  • West Midlands Railway.

Meanwhile, the following train companies will be running an amended service, meaning passengers should brace for fewer services:

  • Greater Anglia (including Stansted Express)
  • Great Western Railway
  • LNER.

Refunds for train tickets on strike days

If you have already bought an advance train ticket which coincides with a strike day, you may be able to claim a refund.

If the train is cancelled, you should be able to claim a full refund, and if it’s delayed you should be able to get a partial refund.

You will usually also be given the option of changing your ticket, or using the ticket you bought on an earlier or later train too.

National Rail confirmed that for passengers with an advance, off-peak or anytime ticket, as well as rovers and rangers and those with interrail and Britrail passes, can travel on alternative dates as follows:

  • Ticket dated 1 February can be used up to 7 February
  • Ticket dated 3 February can be used on 2 February up to 7 February.

It usually means travel is allowed at a time on an alternative day which closely matches the time you originally booked.

If you have a magstripe National Rail ticket (single, return, season ticket), which allows you to travel across London, you can use it on TfL services (bus, tube, tram or DLR) on “reasonable” routes only on a strike day.

You may also be able to use your ticket on a different train service which runs a similar route.

However, if the alternative travel dates don’t work for you, or you choose not to travel because your service has been cancelled, delayed or rescheduled, you are entitled to a refund.

To apply for a refund, you will need to contact the train provider, or the company you bought the ticket from, and give it details of the ticket you’ve purchased and the date and time of the train.

You will usually need to show proof of the ticket, this could be a receipt, the actual physical ticket, or an e-ticket, in order to apply for a refund.

If you choose to travel on a strike day and are delayed on your journey, you will be able to claim compensation if the delay meets the “Delay Repay” threshold.

The amount you can claim back depends on the length of the delay which varies by train company, from 15 minutes to 60 minutes. Contact the train provider to apply for the compensation, you can usually do this automatically online. It’s really important to keep your ticket as proof, so don’t let it get swallowed at the barriers.

If you have a season ticket, you can also usually claim for both cancellations and delays on individual train journeys. The refund process works differently depending on the train line.

You usually have up to 28 days to apply for a refund or a delay.

What happens if you can’t make events or hotel stays?

National Rail said it cannot refund taxi or hotel bills. Plus, if you physically can’t get to an event or a concert, for example, you’re unlikely to be able to get a refund for this.

This is because the event will go ahead anyway, regardless of the fact that people may not be able to travel to it.

However, it’s always worth contacting the event organiser or the hotel to ask if a refund can be given, or if you can change your ticket or booking to another date.

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