You could even be entitled to a late train refund if it is more than 15 minutes late as some train operators will give you compensation if this is the case. If your train was cancelled, then you are entitled to get a full refund no matter what type of ticket you bought for the journey.
It is essential that you keep all your rail tickets to get a partial or full refund and it is best to claim compensation within 28 days however some train companies do allow longer than this period to make a claim. Season tickets holders should check the website of the train company or ask at their ticket office for more details on getting compensation, but you should be able to get money back if there has been a delay or compensation.
Furthermore, if you miss a flight because your train was delayed or cancelled, then you should contact your travel insurance provider as they may be able to cover these costs.
How much will I get if my train is delayed?
The amount of compensation you receive if your train was delayed depends upon which train company you travelled with. If you are unsure who this was, then the information should be on your train ticket.
The train company may offer something called ‘Delay Repay’, and if they are part of this scheme, then you will be able to get compensation. If you are unsure whether the train company offers this then you should check their website, they may also refer to it as delay compensation.
With Delay Repay you are entitled to 50% of the cost of your ticket if you get to your destination between 30 minutes and an hour late. If you are more than an hour late, then you will be entitled to a full refund
What is Delay Repay?
As previously stated, the type of delay you claim for depends on if the train company has a Delay Repay scheme. It essentially means that they will pay out for delays even if the delay was not their fault.
The majority of train companies now run with the Delay Repay system, which has a threshold of 30 minutes. Recently a Delay Repay 15 scheme has been introduced meaning the threshold has now been reduced to 15 minutes for some train companies.
If this is the case, then you are entitled to 25% of your ticket price if you get to your destination station between 15 and 29 minutes late. It is important to note that it is the time in which you arrive at the station that matters and not the time which you left. Again, if you’re unsure if the train company run the Delay Repay 15 scheme you should check their website. Even if you booked the tickets through a different site, you would need to claim from the train company that was running the delayed service, and you must do this within 28 days of the delay.
The Train Company does not offer Delay Repay
Some train companies operate without Delay Repay and so delay repay compensation depends on their own rules. With these companies, the rules are less clear-cut, so it is always important to check the full list of their policies before accelerating your complaint.
The minimum that these companies have to do is set out their rules in the National Rail Conditions of Travel. This details the rights of train travellers and where and how these rights might be restricted. The train companies only have to pay if the delay was their fault and was at least an hour, but this is the bare minimum that they have to do. Most firms that do not offer Delay Repay will generally give you more than what the minimum is. However, this means that you will not get any compensation if the delay was not the fault of the train company, the most common of instances is if bad weather delayed the journey.
Yet the minimum you should usually receive for a valid claim compensation is 50% of the train fare if you bought a single ticket and 25% if you bought a ticket for a return journey. If you were delayed on both journeys for a return ticket for more than an hour, then you will be able to claim 50% of your ticket price.
How to claim
You can claim train delay compensation by going to the website of the train company where you should be able to fill out an online claim form. In most instances, you will be required to upload an image of your train ticket.
You are also able to write a letter to the train company if you would instead do this. In this letter, you will need to include your original tickets and give the details of your journey. It is best to make a copy of your tickets, either a photo or a scan, in case your letter goes missing. Once you have sent your letter to the train company, then you should get a refund within 28 days.
It is important to remember that if you should always receive a cash refund if that is your preferred choice. Some train companies will offer you vouchers on future journeys as part of the compensation, but if you prefer a cash refund, then you can insist on it.
I am a season ticket holder
If you are a season ticket holder who has bought a train ticket for a month or longer, then you should be able to claim for individual delays. Once again this depends on the policy of the train company as some season ticket holders may not be able to claim if there is a delay for one of their trains.
Despite this, monthly or annual ticket holders may be able to claim a discount or even free travel when they renew their ticket if they have been through what is known as ‘sustained poor performance’. This depends once again on the terms of the individual train company, but sustained poor performance is broadly defined as 12 delay claims in 20 working days. If the punctuality of a train is constantly below target, then this also tends to qualify as sustained poor performance, and you should be able to claim compensation.
If you believe that you are eligible to make a claim there are online tools which will list the data of train journeys over the last few months. By using tools such as Recent Train Times and the Office of Rail and Road, you can check the exact time of arrival and departure of your train to substantiate your claim.
It may be the case that the train company automatically offer you a discount when you renew your ticket in a certain number of days, but most people will need to contact customer services. If you are unsure what to do, check the policy of the train company or contact them directly.
What to do if your claim is rejected
You can formally complain directly to the train company if you are unsatisfied with how they have handled your train delay compensation claim. It is best to do this by writing a letter which quotes the guidelines that are in the passenger charter of the train company.
If this does not work, then you can take your complaint to Transport Focus. They are an independent passenger watchdog that can take up your complaint on your behalf to get a proper reply from the train company after you have sent your letter to them. Transport Focus have information and data on previous complaints so you can see what the train company has done in the past and how they have dealt with it.
Please note that if you are complaining about a journey within London and the surrounding areas, then you should take your complaint further with London TravelWatch rather than Transport Focus.
It is also vital to remember that both of these firms have no actual power to force a train company to pay out if it is in the wrong, which is why in November 2018 the Rail Ombudsman was established. Full details of the Rail Ombudsman are below.
Another useful tool can be social media, mainly if the train company is not getting back to you or giving you an adequate response. More and more people are taking to Twitter to take up their complaints with train companies. The Twitter accounts are regularly active and offer feedback and up-to-date information on train journeys, so it can be a useful avenue to pursue.
If you do not get a response or are unhappy with the response from the train company, then you can take your complaint further. You can do this by contacting the Rail Ombudsman as they can investigate allegations made about the vast majority of train companies.
Unlike Transport Focus, if the Rail Ombudsman decided that the train company is in the wrong, then it is their responsibility to put it right by giving you some compensation. Even if they are unable to help you, the Rail Ombudsman can put you in contact with an organisation which can take matters up further.