Train delayed? Get your money back

Too few of us pursue compensation for train delays. Ruth Jackson-Kirby explains how to get some cash back.

Crowds at Brighton Station after long delays © Alamy

Don't just get cross get cash
(Image credit: Crowds at Brighton Station after long delays © Alamy)

Whether the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, or too windy, there is always an excuse for train delays. Last week soaring temperatures were blamed for warped rails and sagging cables that caused delays and cancellations nationwide. Yet few will have bothered to seek compensation. A report by Transport Focus has revealed that just 35% of us use the Delay Repay system to claim a refund when our train is delayed.

"Some people do not claim because they are not aware they are entitled to it, while others believe it is not worth the effort," says Sophie Barnes in The Daily Telegraph. Last year more than eight million journeys were delayed by at least 29 minutes, says consumers' rights group Which. But £100m of compensation went unclaimed.

Under the Delay Repay scheme you are entitled to compensation if your train is more than 30 minutes late arriving at your destination. But some rail firms offer compensation if trains are more than 15 minutes late or even two minutes if you travel with c2c. All firms operating the Delay Repay scheme are moving to 15-minute compensation by 2020.

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If your train is 15-29 minutes late you can get 25% of your single fare back with Delay Repay. This rises to 50% for delays of 30-59 minutes and 100% of a single fare if you are over an hour late. If you are more than two hours late you can get a 100% refund on a return fare.

With season tickets you get a proportion of your ticket refunded. How much depends on the length of the delay, whether you have a weekly, monthly, or annual season ticket and which train firm you were travelling with. Some operators offer automatic refunds to season ticket holders.

Know the rules

If you are delayed enough to qualify for compensation, you'll need to fill in the operator's Delay Repay form. You can ask train staff for a copy, get one from the ticket office, or find it online. "Be sure to keep hold of the ticket you are claiming for," says Ben Clatworthy in The Times.

Rail tickets are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. "This means that passengers are entitled to payment for additional consequential losses, such as missed connections," says Clatworthy.

"Getting the money out of rail operators might be hard, but I would advise anyone who had to pay extra to travel during the recent heatwave to pursue the train operator in a bid to recover the costs."

Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance. 

Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.

Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.