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Rail passengers, ‘Delay Repay’ and improved compensation

Mike’s train service to and from London is pretty reliable. However, over the last few months, there have been quite a few times when his train has been five, nine, or on a few occasions, twenty-odd minutes late. Under previous rules he would not be entitled to compensation as a 30-minute delay is the lowest trigger.

This was not fair. Unless he can persuade the train company to compensate him (which could probably be quite a long, drawn out process) he has simply not got what he paid for. Also, not all train companies have Delay Repay in place – they rely on the old Passenger’s Charter terms of at least 60 minutes’ delay. Yes, of course, things will sometimes go wrong and everyone understands that. However, a string of ‘operational’ delays can add up, little by little, to a major irritation.

So the Government’s announcement today, that the Delay Repay threshold will be reduced is welcome news – first on Southern and wider Govia Thameslink services, and then train company by train company, as franchises are replaced (or earlier, if deals can be done). Fifteen minutes is a much more sensible level which matches much of what many passengers have said in our research.

What we need to see now is an increased push by train companies to tell passengers that compensation is available – this has already improved a lot. Then make it easier to claim – forms, ticket offices and vouchers is old fashioned. Best of all is automatic Delay Repay – already available on C2C and Virgin West Coast for Advance tickets, which takes a lot of pain away. We will be pushing for this in all new franchises.

Added to the new Consumer Rights Act, this will help all in the industry focus on their most basic promise – delivering the timetable we all rely on. However, passengers need to do their part as well – claim!

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