All you need to know to complain about trains
How to complain when your train is cancelled
If your train is cancelled you are due a full refund of the ticket price paid. If you still wish to travel you should be able to get on the next train then claim as for a delayed journey (see below). If you have a date and time restricted ticket you may not be able to get on a later train. You should check with the station staff before travelling who will be able to advise. If you don’t travel due to the cancellation you are entitled to a full refund of the ticket price paid.
How to complain when your train is delayed
If you don’t want to travel because of the delay then you should be able to get a full refund of the ticket price paid. It is the time of arrival not the time of departure that is considered. Under the National Rail Conditions of Travel you are entitled to 50% refund for a delay of over 60 minutes. However, most companies now operate a “Delay Repay” scheme, providing compensation for these delays regardless of cause. For most of the companies operating this scheme you will get at least 50% refund current threshold is a delay of 30+ minutes, but a threshold of 15 minutes is being introduced between now and 2020 and at the point of going to print 9 companies have signed up to this.
You rights if you don’t travel on a train out of choice
If you choose not to take the train journey for which you booked you should be refunded. It could be, for example, that an event to which you were travelling was cancelled so you didn’t want to travel. Or any reason! So long as it wasn’t an advance ticket you should be able to get a refund minus an administration fee. The maximum administration fee that the companies can charge is £10.
Season tickets and your rights when trains are cancelled
Different train companies operate different policies. You will need to check with the relevant company. You will need to submit a claim for each journey rather than a discount at renewal. The amount paid will depend on the specific company’s Passenger Charter.
Consequential loss when your train is delayed or cancelled train
The National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCT) state that companies are not liable for consequential losses. For example, If you couldn’t make use of a hotel stay or theatre tickets. However, they do state that companies will consider exceptional cases. Since October 1st 2016 the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) now applies to travel, including trains. Under this act you are entitled to services to be carried out with reasonable skill and care. It would certainly be worth trying to claim using both the CRA and the exceptional circumstances of the NRCT.
On 10 March 2016 the National Rail Conditions of Travel finally removed the warning that operators will not accept liability for a “consequential loss” after delays or cancellations.
In September 2013, The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that rail passengers are entitled to a partial refund of the price of their train ticket even in poor weather circumstances.
How to claim compensation from train delays and cancellations
If you don’t use your ticket to make all or part of your journey, take the unused ticket to any train company’s ticket office and receive an immediate refund.
For most train companies you can also apply online via the company’s website.
Alternatively you can send the claim to the train company by postal mail. Before you do, take a photo of the tickets just in case they get “lost in the post”!
Make sure you claim within 28 days of the date of travel.
Find your company on the National Rail Enquiries page which will take you to the relevant page.
Your consequential loss rights when you miss a connection
If you have missed a connecting train due to the cancellation or delay, you can claim a refund for the unused part of the journey should you not go on a later train or have to use an alternative form of transport. You could consider claiming for consequential losses, as above.
Train emergency timetables and your rights
Some train companies run what they describe as an “emergency timetable”. In these instances it is possible that this may affect what you can claim. If you bought your ticket before the new timetable was put in place and decide not to travel then you can claim a full refund, as above. However, should you travel and be delayed then the level of compensation will be based on the timings of trains according to the new timetable.
What to do if you are not satisfied with a response from the rail company
If you think that the response from a train company is unsatisfactory, read the NRCT and the train company’s Passenger Charter which will have the details of the procedure you should follow. If you are still not happy and your journey was outside of London contact Transport Focus. For London (including under and overground) contact London Travel Watch. If after this you are still not happy you can take the matter to the CEO of Transport Focus or of London Travel Watch.
The Rail Ombudsman
The Rail Ombudsman was launched 26 November 2018. It is funded by the train companies which have all signed up to the service and are obliged to abide by the decisions it makes. You must have reached the end of the provider’s complaints procedure before taking the matter to the Rail Ombudsman.
The Rail Ombudsman can accept claims from England, Scotland and Wales.
Although rail companies are bound by the decision of the Rail Ombudsman, you are not. So, if you are not happy with the outcome and believe you have enough evidence to support a claim, you can go to the Small Claims Court.