Train Delay Compensation: Know Your Rights

I hate train delays. Ok, they’re not really on my mind as much now my commute, as a stay at home dad, is non-existent. I used to travel from the South East to North London on a daily basis and down to Southampton on quite a number of occasions too.

Delays happened at least once a week and it threw out all my timings. The long journey got even longer and I normally missed the children’s bed times and ended up having to reheat dinner, rather than enjoying it as a family. Luckily for me, those days of commuting are a distant memory as now I sit on the floor most days, playing dolls with Chloe or watching repeats of Peppa Pig (actually repeats of Peppa Pig may be worse than delayed trains!).

It’s still not all good news as Skint Mum still travels by train for her work. Her journey isn’t far but delays seem to happen everyday.

Our train lines are run by Southeastern Railway….what can I say about them? Some of the highest charges in the UK, worst customer service in the UK – joy!

Following the consistent rain over the last few months, the London to Hastings line has been hit by numerous landslides and landslips which has thrown all train journeys out; they cancelled loads of trains, changed the timetables, have laid on replacement buses and closed stations.

The pictures on their website are quite severe!
Train Delay Compensation

Even with these changes while they fix the lines, the delays still happen. To be honest, even before the rain, the delays still happened!

With most of my rant over, the ORR (Office of Rail Regulation) has carried out a study which was published last week found that three quarters of rail passengers “do not know very much” or “nothing at all” about their compensation and refunds rights when trains are delayed or cancelled.

Just imagine how much money is going unclaimed. So, spread the news. Tell your friends, family, neighbours and anyone you know that they can get compensation for train delays, and that it’s quite easy.

Don’t Travel – Straight Refund

You can get a refund if you decide not to travel travel at all if the train is cancelled or delayed.

If there is any other reason you decide not to travel, you can also apply for a refund but you will need to pay an administration charge of up to £10.

Travel – Get Train Delay Compensation

Depending on which train operator you travel with, you have two options for compensation. Also, depending on the circumstances, there are some delays that train companies may not pay compensation for.

Each train company decide on the amount that they will give under their own Passenger’s Charter.

1. Basic Compensation under Personal Charters

There is a minimum amount that all train companies need to provide, which is detailed in the
National Rail Conditions of Carriage.

Most companies do pay more than the minimum but, if your train is 60 minutes late, the lowest levels you can claim for compensation are:

  • 20% of the price paid for a single ticket
  • 10% of the price paid for a return ticket if the delay is only on one leg of the journey
  • 20% of the price paid for a return ticket if both legs are delayed
  • 20% of the price of a Weekly Season Ticket divided by 7
  • For monthly or annual tickets, the compensation amount is decided by the train provider.

There is a long list of things they won’t cover train delay compensation for such as “exceptionally severe weather conditions”. When a lot of the delays at the moment have been caused by the weather, isn’t really what we need to hear.

2. Enhanced Compensation Delay Repay

If your train provider is Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Coast, East Midlands Trains, First Capital Connect, Greater Anglia, London Midland, Southeastern, Southern or Virgin Trains they operate “Delay Repay”.

The rules for Delay Repay are simpler than the Personal Charters. You can claim compensation for a delay of 30 minutes and get a higher percentage for the longer the train is late. Claims need to be put in for all journeys, including Season Ticket Holders.

You can also claim compensation for any delay – like bad weather – so it gives you more of a chance of getting compensation.
Train Delay Compensation

How to Claim Train Delay Compensation

It’s easy – as long as you’ve kept your ticket. If you don’t have a ticket you won’t be able to claim.

If you didn’t travel and just want a refund, you will need to get a refund then and there from a ticket office, or in advance of your travel. You can’t really do this retrospectively as it’d be a bit hard to say you didn’t travel without proving it.

If you are claiming for train delay compensation, you need to make the claim within 28 days. You’ll need to download a form from your train provider’s website (then send snail mail) or, for speed, use their online claim form and you will have to provide the ticket as proof. The compensation is paid in vouchers which you can normally only use in person at a ticket office.

Memory Like a Sieve?

Now, if you’re like me and can’t remember what you had for breakfast, let alone which trains were delayed last week or three weeks before, there are some crafty tools popping up over the web.

One of my favourites is Delay Repay Sniper. You can sign up for the first month free and there after pay from £2.99 per month. However, if you don’t need to make a claim, you can apply to them for a refund for that month.

I popped in Skint Mum’s route and it said that 133 journeys were delayed for the previous month with around £70 of compensation that could be due. Obviously, she only usually does two journeys a day (there and back), and the journeys that were delayed may not have been the ones she would normally take, but it shows the level of claims that could be made!

Are you one of the 75% who didn’t know about compensation for train delays? Will you be making a claim?

Photo: Alice Bartlett

Ricky Willis is the Founder and Editor of the Skint Dad blog. As well as an avid money saver, writer and blogger, Ricky also enjoys dabbling with the technical side of blogging and will soon be launching a WordPress tips blog,

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  • manchesterflickchick

    This is all fantastic info! I had no idea about any of this. I remember missing most of an audition with a band because my train was cancelled and then the next one delayed. Turns out I don’t have the memory to remember a load of songs worth of lyrics anyway but the compensation would have cheered me up.

    • Skint Dad

      It’s amazing how many people I have spoken to who didn’t realise you can claim compensation. A few people have mentioned it’s a time consuming process which it can be, although it’s worth it if you end up be rewarded with a refund.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been stuck some many times over the last few months. Thanks for the tips will be defo doing this from now on!

  • Anne Caborn

    Great post. We’ve also got a useful template for a letter you can send on the Money Fight Club website. Feel free to share the URL

    • Skint Dad

      Thanks for sharing this Anne.

  • DelayRepayAgent

    Hi Skint Dad! Thanks for the recommendation of our service (delay repay
    sniper). For those who cannot be bothered with the claim process itself,
    we also offer a Full Service where we will complete the online
    applications (or print out the forms, fill them in and send them) on
    your behalf, some of our users who are routinely affected are receiving
    between £80 and £120 back each time.

    One of our users pays over
    £11,000 for their train ticket and when you pay that much you have to be
    able to get a certain service level or money back.

    One of our employees travels on the Hastings line and the service during the major land slide was appalling.

    way, thanks again for the recommendation and let us know if there are
    any improvements Skint Mum would like to see in the service or site.

  • DelayRepayAgent

    Hi Anne, would be great to get a feature on your site for people to save even more money if you are open to the suggestion? Thanks, Delay Repay Sniper.