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Train firms now allowing all passengers to claim ticket refunds remotely

Train firms are now allowing customers to get all tickets refunded remotely, after new systems were put in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Changes introduced last month mean that all train tickets bought prior to Monday 23 March are now refundable, although rail users wanting to refund a season ticket could be charged a £10 admin fee.

But since the new refund policy was announced, several train firms' websites have continued to tell customers they must visit a station ticket office in person in order to get their money back – which many would be reluctant to do given Government advice to stay at home wherever possible.

Now the Rail Delivery Group – which represents train operators – says all passengers can claim refunds remotely and it's specifically asked customers NOT to visit a ticket office. It says you should check the website of the company that sold your tickets for full details of the best way to get a refund.

Rail firms have also doubled the time passengers have to apply for a ticket refund. You can now do this up to eight weeks after your planned journey – it was previously four weeks.

In addition, the Rail Delivery Group has said train operators are now accepting tickets for each other's services so long as it's the same route. So if you need to make an essential journey and your service has been delayed or cancelled, you can travel on the next available service with any operator – though if in doubt, check before travelling.

For more on how day-to-day life has been affected by coronavirus, including MOT rule changes, gym refunds and supermarket restrictions, see Coronavirus Life-in-Lockdown Help.

How do I get a refund for my train ticket?

Exactly how you get a refund will vary depending on who you've bought your ticket from, but the Rail Delivery Group's commitment is that you'll always be able to do it 'remotely' – ie, without travelling anywhere.

Most of the firms that we've checked are allowing you to get a refund by filling in an online form, and taking an image of your ticket.

For example, Great Northern has an online form and asks customers to take an image of their ticket cut into two halves, while ScotRail similarly has an online form.

You can now get a refund for nearly ALL train tickets

On Monday 23 March, the Government temporarily took over rail operators. Services have been cut, and as a result, you can now get a refund for nearly all types of train tickets bought prior to Monday 23 March, in many cases without paying any admin fee (it's usually £10 to amend a ticket):

  • Advance, off-peak and anytime tickets are now fully refundable and you won't need to pay any admin fee. You should also be able to get a partial refund on any part-used return tickets, again with no fee.

  • Season tickets. With these, you should be able to get a partial refund for the bit you haven't used, so long as you have at least three days left on a seven-day ticket, or at least seven days left on a monthly or longer season ticket. Many firms have waived the usual £10 admin fee for this – although contrary to what was initially announced, some have said they will still charge it, so check.

While nearly all tickets are now refundable, in a few cases (eg, with carnet tickets on some lines) you may need to check the situation with your train operator. Advance tickets purchased after 7am on Monday 23 March – when this was announced – also won't be eligible for a fee-free refund.

If you've bought a Transport for London travelcard which is loaded onto your Oyster card, TfL has said it will waive its usual £5 admin charge if you request a refund as a result of being told to self-isolate.

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