Southern rail commuters offered a Christmas windfall

Rebecca Smith and Helen Cahill
Beleaguered Southern Rail Users Face More Misery As Five Day Strike Begins
There will be strikes in December and the new year

Over 84,000 Southern rail commuters will be offered a Christmas windfall following months of disruption.

Southern's parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway, and the government are attempted to appease long-suffering passengers on the beleaguered line.

Read more: Govia launches legal action against Aslef union to stop industrial action

Season ticket holders on Southern will be able to claim a refund for the equivalent of one month’s travel, according to a government announcement scheduled for this morning.

With an average month’s annual season ticket priced at £289, the government’s bill for the pay-outs could run to £25m or beyond. Those travelling the Brighton to London and Horsham to London routes will stand to get £371 and £326 refunded respectively. Officials say the payments will be in addition to the improved Delay Repay 15 compensation scheme which begins on GTR from 11 December.

Read more: Merry Christmas everyone: RMT changes Southern strike dates

Passengers claiming against quarterly, monthly or weekly tickets must have bought travel for at least 12 weeks between 24 April and 31 December 2016.

Commuters have battled against delays and cancellations in recent months as an ongoing dispute between Southern and unions has led to a string of strikes. Southern has clashed with both the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and Aslef.

Yesterday the RMT union called off a Southern rail strike just before Christmas – but replaced it with a 48-hour stoppage from 19 December. Planned walkouts from 6 to 8 December and 31 December to 2 January remain in place.

“Getting Southern rail back on track is a priority for the government and I know that what passengers want most is a reliable service,” said Rail minister Paul Maynard.

Read more: Chris Grayling slams "politically motivated" Southern strikes

“But when things do go wrong it is right that we compensate people who have not had the service that they deserve. This is a gesture in recognition of the problems people have faced.”

But Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South, who has been calling on the government to increase compensation for Southern passengers, feels more needs to be done.

"As a top priority I am calling on the government to break the strikes that are planned over the Christmas period, secondly I am lobbying for immediate extra infrastructure investment to fix points and signals, thirdly I believe GTR should lose the franchise and fourthly I would like to see digital signals and track widening around East Croydon," he said.

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