Train delay compensation rights – what rail passengers can claim if the weather has affected your journey
You can add “hot weather” to the list of things that break our trains, which already includes “cold weather, wet weather and – well – autumn. But how bad does it have to be before you can claim compensation? Consumer lawyer Dean Dunham explains your rights
Train passengers are in for a rough ride as the heatwave continues.
While the nation baked this week, South Western Railway got hot and bothered.
It announced that commuters travelling on its London Waterloo to New Malden service could face delays, changes to timetables or cancellations due to the heat.
The network’s trains can operate on track temperatures up to 46C. But with the mercury in the high 20s, the sun heated steel rail lines to a blistering 47C.
It is likely that other train operators will also feel the heat this summer – meaning widespread disruption for more passengers.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to know your rights on rail compensation and expenses.
This comes under the Consumer Rights Act and the newly revised National Rail Conditions of Travel.
How long must the delay be before I can claim?
Most train operators have a “delay repay” policy. Some offer compo for delays of 15 minutes.
But if your train is delayed by more than 30 minutes, you can expect to recover half the cost of your one-way journey.
But if you have been delayed by 60 minutes or more, then you should receive the full cost of the one-way journey.
Each policy will depend on which train operator your ticket is with.
If you are refused compo or expenses by the train operator, the Consumer Rights Act may apply.
How can I apply?
Under the act, passengers could get a partial or full refund. They must write to the company, outlining the claim and saying why it failed to carry out the service with “reasonable care and skill”.
The CRA also entitles passengers to recover reasonable losses or costs suffered other than the train ticket itself, known as consequential losses.
But you must prove the loss is a direct result of the cancellation or delay. For example, if you had to pay for a taxi if the last train had been cancelled.
This is useful to know, as these costs would not typically be considered under Delay Repay policies.
The operator will not be obliged to compensate if the problem was caused by an extraordinary circumstance that it can show was beyond its control.
Dean Dunham – Sunday Mirror
For more information and tips about your consumer rights, please read our other articles in the consumer news section.