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Rail compensation improvements announced

The Office for Rail and Road (ORR) announced changes to licence requirements on train companies today. (01/04/22).

Train companies will now have to provide passengers with clear information regarding delay compensation before and during their journeys. They will also have to publish data on how well they are meeting the new obligations.

Virgin train not providing tickets early enough

The ORR press release

“Clear and accurate information must be provided to passengers on their rights to claim delay compensation – during the booking stage, online and in stations.

In the case of a delay, train companies must inform passengers via in-train or on-platform announcements and electronic notifications of their rights to claim.

Simplified claims processes must be in place to make it easy for passengers to submit compensation claims for delays.

Train companies will have 20 working days to process claims. If a claim is rejected, they must give passengers clear justification and details about how to contest the decision.

These new requirements will help close the ‘compensation gap’, between those who could claim compensation and those that actually do so.

In 2019-20, only 37% of passengers eligible for compensation actually made a claim, a figure unchanged in recent years. The low claim uptake is caused by many passengers not knowing when they are eligible to claim, or being deterred by complex claim processes.

Stephanie Tobyn, deputy director for consumers at ORR said:

“All train companies have agreed to these new standards, so the process for making a delay compensation claim will be a lot clearer for passengers.

“When things go wrong, passengers will now have a better understanding of the eligibility criteria for making a claim, the levels of payment, how to claim and what information they will need to provide”.”

For far too long rail companies have not done enough to inform passengers of their rights. Now that passengers will be better informed, we will hopefully see more than the current 37% of eligible customers get their refunds. However, rail customers also need to know that if they are not happy with a train company’s response they can take the matter to The Rail Ombudsman. This is a free and impartial service which will make a decision on what actions should be taken. The decision is binding on the train company.

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