Know your train and Tube refund rights amid travel chaos
It's been a bad day for commuters, with more woe to come, so what can you claim if you're delayed?
Rail travellers have suffered massive delays today between Edinburgh and London on the East Coast Main Line thanks to overhead wire problems, particularly between Peterborough and London.
Related MSE Guides
Engineering works mean there are no direct services between London and Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow on 23 and 24 December, while other routes will be hit by closures over the festive period.
Meanwhile on Boxing Day, Londoners are due to be hit by a Tube strike.
So what are your rights? (Also see the Flight Delays Compensation guide if your plane is delayed.)
Train delays — are you due money back?
You can NOT get any money back if the delay is less than half an hour.
If longer, while every operator has different rules, the information below gives a general idea of what you can claim.
- When you may be entitled to compensation. If the delay or cancellation is the fault of the train operator. Examples include train or signal failures.
- When you are NOT entitled to compensation. When the problem is out of the control of the train operator. This includes strikes, pre-planned maintenance work and bad weather. However, in practice, some firms may still pay out so it is worth claiming.
The next section applies if your train is cancelled:
- Can I get on another train? If your ticket is open, you can get on any train anyway. If it's restricted, you can't get on the next train if yours is delayed. But if it's cancelled, you should be able to. See the delays section below as to whether you can claim compensation.
- Can I get my money back if I don't travel? Yes, you are entitled to a full refund. This applies whether your ticket is for a set train or if it is an open-ended ticket.
- How to claim. You can pick up a form from the appropriate company's stations, or visit its website. Make sure you keep hold of your tickets, as you will need these when applying for a refund. You need to apply within 28 days.
The next section applies if your train is delayed or you get on a later service if your original train is cancelled:
- What if I don't want to travel? You are entitled to a full refund.
- What if I'm late arriving? If you travel and the delay is over half an hour, you may be entitled to a refund, but the amount varies (see below). If you are booked on a set train you have more rights than if your ticket is open-ended.
- How much can I get? The minimum compensation train operators have to offer you is 20% of your fare for more than an hour's delay. However, you will usually receive more, depending on the train operator. You may even get cash for delays between 30 minutes and an hour from some firms. In the south of England, Southern gives you a full refund if your train is delayed by more than an hour.
- How to claim. You can pick a form from the appropriate company's stations or visit its website. Make sure you keep hold of your tickets, as you will need these when applying for a refund. You have 28 days to apply. Compensation is usually in vouchers, unless you don't use the ticket, in which case you will be refunded via the payment method you used to book.
Tube delays — are you due money back?
London Underground users are NOT entitled to compensation when there is a strike. Again, there is no harm in making a claim as you may still get cash, even if you have to formal rights.
Under normal circumstances, if your train is delayed by more than 15 minutes, you can get a refund for the full cost of the journey.
Download or fill in an application form from the Transport for London website within 14 days.
As with mainline trains, if you have a paper ticket, keep hold of it as you will need it when applying for a refund.
What if you miss a flight?
If train problems cause you to miss a flight, you may be able to get compensation from travel insurance.
But you need to show you allowed a reasonable amount of time for your journey to meet the flight.
Tom Bishop, head of travel insurance at insurer Direct Line, says: "Anyone planning to go away during the festive period should look out for planned engineering works and strike announcements ahead of time.
"Travel insurance policies may provide cover for missed or delayed departures caused by industrial action, provided the policies were purchased and in force before the strike dates were announced."
Discuss this MSE news story: Rail refunds