Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Train delays could see consumers making tracks for compensation

Train Compensation
One of the funniest train announcements of all time had to be, not one that was heard by commuters from the station announcer who reported to all and sundry, “due to unforeseen circumstances, this train is running on time - we'd like to apologize for any inconvenience this may cause”, but a hand written sign placed by one quick witted soul on the Gatwick Express train service which said, “For a more efficient service, please alight at the next stop where a team of heavily drugged sloths will drag you to your destination.”

Sadly having to wait for a train to arrive whilst running late for work or an appointment, or a delay that costs you money and time is not so funny. It is understandable if there are problems with the signals or rail tracks, which mean the safety of your journey would be compromised, for delays to take place. However, it came as a surprise to read this week that consumers who are subject to delay, might be eligible to claim some compensation.

Study by the Office of Rail Regulation provokes a train of thought

Apparently I am not alone in realising this fact as a report from the Study for the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) just out confirmed that around 75% of rail passengers in the UK were also unaware as well. If your rail journey has been cancelled or there is a delay and you decide not to travel then you might still be eligible for some form of recompense in the form of a full refund. This is certainly worth investigating as rail fares are not cheap, even just for a short journey.

It also set me thinking about the number of times I have arrived at the train station to be met by an announcement of delays and one or two cancellations on noticeboards and over the tannoy, but never saw any notice regarding my right to claim some money back. There is nothing printed on the ticket, to the best of my knowledge, and I have just been onto the National  Railways website to “Ask Lisa” in the Help section about this only to be referred to a list of train operators whilst stating I may be entitled to compensation but I had to contact the rail provider direct.

So I can fully understand why three quarters of rail users surveyed were in ignorance of their rights to compensation and applaud the 25% of you who were aware and obviously are a lot more observant than I am. I suggest at this point you go and put the kettle on whilst I share my findings with my fellow passengers.

Consumer information on compensation due to delay or cancellation of trains

The first point to note is that compensation may not be paid out in the event of bad weather or vandalism. However if a train is an hour late, not due to the two events just mentioned, then you can claim a minimum of 20% refund on your single ticket. You have to submit your claim within 28 days and the compensation is normally paid out in the form of vouchers which are valid for one year.  If the train is delayed or cancelled and you choose to travel, you might still be entitled to compensation and it is worth checking if the rail company you use offer “delay repay”. Delay repay means that compensation can be available even if the delay is only for half an hour, so it is worth checking on the company website or via their customer service helpline.

If you have experienced train delays and got compensation then let us know or if you think you should have had something back due to unforeseen cancellations then contact us – we’re listening!

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