Could you be due compensation from your rail operator?


June 2018

Could you be due compensation from your rail operator?

Commuters have been facing increased misery in recent weeks with new timetables causing massive delays and cancellations on multiple networks.

The reason for the recent disruption is the recent timetable overhaul which took place on the 20th of May. Govia Thameslink, the organisation that operates Southern, Gatwick, Northern and Thameslink rail, completed the shakeup with the intention of increasing efficiency but this move has simply resulted in even more confusion, delays, and cancellations.

One of the worst affected operators was Northern Rail, where customers are still facing chaos despite the rail operator removing 165 services every day until the end of the month to deal with the issues. To make matters worse for Northern, the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) spoke of new industrial action  on the 19th,21st and 23rd of June over an ongoing conflict regarding driverless trains.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said Northern was "planning to shred the safety culture in the same way that they have shredded the timetables".

"This company has reduced the timetable to total chaos and the union will not allow them to slash the safety culture to ribbons in the same fashion," he said

There could be some light at the end of the tunnel for passengers as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling recently announced that commuters who have been adversely affected by recent timetables could receive additional compensation.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Grayling said: “The rail industry has collectively failed to deliver for the passengers it serves.

“It’s right that the industry has apologised for the situation that we are currently in and that we learn the lessons for the future.”

Precise details regarding who will be eligible for the extra compensation, as well as to what extent, have been slightly vague but we have put together the available information so you know whether to make a claim.

Initial indications show that Thameslink and Northern customers will be the ones who receive it although it is not clear if the scheme will be extended to other affected lines. Beyond this the transport secretary has been slightly cagey with specifics. For example, it isn’t clear if commuters who use entirely or predominantly different lines to the ones directly affected by the timetables changed but have been affected by the knock-on effect will be compensated.

What we do know however is that the compensation will most likely be centred around reimbursing season ticket holders as Grayling said that the plan will affect “regular” commuters. It is also expected that the compensation will come in the form of a month’s free travel, in the cases of people with season tickets this will most likely result in a free month for those paying monthly or weekly, or a month’s reimbursement for those paying on a yearly basis.

It’s uncertain exactly why Grayling has been slightly vague about the specifics, most likely it was due to  him feeling the need to offer a statement before concrete plans could actually be drawn up.

Another welcome bit of news is that the new compensation scheme will not interfere in any way with the current Delay Repay plan which reimburses customers for any train that arrives over 15 minutes late. The bill of the compensation is to be footed by the train operators with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) who represents train companies agreeing with the new plan. Paul Plummer of RDG said:

"We fully support the Government's enquiry which must take an open and comprehensive look at every aspect of the decision-making process and the organisations involved in the timetable change.

"The industry will play its part to ensure lessons are learned but right now Network Rail, Northern and Govia Thameslink are working together, with support from the rest of the industry, to get services back to an acceptable level."