Commuters will be able to claim compensation for train delays of just 15 minutes under plans announced in today's Autumn Statement.
The change, which could open the door to a huge number of additional claims, is part of a four-year plan for the Department for Transport released today, with rail passengers also promised 'flexible season tickets' and improved wi-fi on some routes.
Currently, most train companies offer compensation for delays of 30 minutes or more, as set out in their passenger charters. See our Train Delays guide for links to individual policies.
But firms are actually only required to compensate passengers for delays of 60 minutes or more which were within the rail companies' control, as part of the National Rail Conditions of Carriage which set out the rules around train delay compensation.
Compensation for 15-minute delays
Currently there's very little detail on how compensation will be offered for shorter delays or what you can get. The Autumn Statement document simply says the Department for Transport's plans include "ensuring that rail passengers have access to compensation when trains are over 15 minutes late".
Unfortunately when we spoke to the Department for Transport it wasn't able to tell us how the new compensation scheme will work, when it will come in or whether it would apply to all passengers or just some, such as season ticket holders. A spokesperson said the department's likely to start talks with train companies shortly.
It's unclear if the new compensation rules will be written into the National Rail Conditions of Carriage – these have already been updated earlier this year, in July, to allow passengers to request compensation in either cash or rail vouchers (before then they were simply given rail vouchers).
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Flexible season tickets to be trialled
The new compensation plan came alongside an announcement that flexible season tickets will soon be available on certain lines across the country. The new scheme, which is likely to benefit part-time workers, will be trialled on the Essex to London C2C line and the Great Northern Thameslink route.
Again we don't know exactly how this will work, but a spokesperson for the Department for Transport told us it's likely to be a 'carnet' system, which is likely to mean you can use your season ticket a certain number of times in a given period.
The Government first announced its plan to invest in flexible ticketing in 2013. It opened a competition for train companies which ran busy commuter lines into London to bid to run the pilot.
A spokesperson for C2C told us it will be launching its flexible season ticket scheme "next summer", and says: "It's designed to provide better value for part-time workers, who currently have to choose between buying multiple daily tickets, or else a regular season ticket which they don't use every day."
The Autumn Statement also stressed the Government's commitment to improving wi-fi and mobile connectivity on trains, with a pilot scheme planned for commuter lines in London, the Midlands and the North.
However there were few further details about the wi-fi rollout. In February this year, David Cameron announced that free wi-fi would be rolled out on trains across the UK from 2017.