If you're a long-suffering Southern Rail commuter, you can now apply for a lump sum payment as compensation for persistent disruption, even if you haven't received an email telling you you're eligible. You could be due £100s – here's how to check if you're eligible and how to claim.
If you travelled on the Southern network and held at least 12 weeks' worth of season tickets between 1 April and 31 December 2016, you may be able to claim a one-off lump sum. Annual and monthly season ticket holders can get the cost of a month's travel back, while weekly ticket holders can claim the cost of four weekly tickets.
Over the past few months Southern has been contacting 39,000 commuters who it knew were entitled to the lump sum payment, as a result of "significant levels of disruption" last year.
But it's now completed this process and has opened up its lump sum compensation scheme to claims from those it hasn't contacted – so if you think you might be eligible, you can apply directly.
For full info on your rights if you're hit by train delays and cancellations, see our Train Delays guide.
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How do I know if I'm eligible?
You need to have had 12 weeks' worth of season tickets between 1 April and 31 December last year AND your journey will need to have started or finished at a Southern-managed station – and/or a reasonable chunk of your journey must have been on the network.
You CAN still apply if you've already claimed for individual delays via the Delay Repay scheme, if you bought your ticket from somewhere other than Southern, or if you're a Gatwick Express, Thameslink or Oyster card customer whose journey was to or from a Southern station.
You CAN'T claim the lump sum for daily tickets, or for contactless journeys.
How do I claim?
If you haven't already received an email from Southern with instructions of how to claim, you can claim manually. You'll need your:
- Season ticket length
- Ticket and photocard number
- The stations it was valid between
- The cost of the ticket
- A scan or photo of the ticket
If you have all the information above, apply here.
You'll need to enter your address, and choose whether you want your compensation paid as a bank transfer or to your Visa debit or credit card.
It's not known how long the scheme will be open for, but Southern says it will give 14 days' notice before it closes it.
I heard a Southern customer claimed £2,400 – can I get more than a month's compensation?
Last month we heard from a Southern commuter who claimed a £2,400 refund from his card provider, American Express (Amex), for dire service.
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act means your credit card provider is jointly liable with the retailer/seller if something goes wrong. For debit card payments there is a similar but less powerful scheme, called chargeback (which also has a much shorter time frame in which to claim).
In this case it's not clear which scheme Amex paid out under, and so far this is the only case of this type against Southern that we've heard of. It's also worth noting that this case doesn't set a precedent, and so there are no guarantees your card provider will cough up. But it may be worth a shot – see Can you claim from your credit card firm? for full info.
It's also worth bearing in mind that technically the rules say you can't submit a Section 75 claim if you've already claimed compensation by another route, so claiming Southern's compensation lump sum could stop you making a Section 75 claim at a later date.
I've still got questions. Where can I get answers?
Southern has set up a full FAQs page, including more information for Thameslink customers and what to do if you think it's not got your refund amount right.
If you still have questions, there's a dedicated customer services team for this scheme that you can contact between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday, or 9am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. To get in touch, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0345 647 0745.