The government will pay out at least £8.85m in compensation to Southern rail annual season ticket holders due to months of disruption suffered by passengers.
However, there have only been 36,979 claims so far from passengers for the special scheme to refund a month’s travel; under half of the number entitled to claim the compensation, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).
The government said “more than 84,000 passengers” would be compensated when it announced the scheme in December.
Speaking in front of the Transport Committee yesterday, rail minister Paul Maynard said: “We have had, at the latest, 36,979 claims, totalling £8.85m. This is for those that have a season ticket.”
Passengers can still submit applications for claims until 30 April, so the number is likely to grow.
Commuters on Southern have battled months of travel chaos due to an ongoing dispute between Southern and unions over the role of the guard. Southern has clashed with both the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and train drivers’ union Aslef.
Maynard also told the Committee he was not aware of any proposals for the compensation scheme to be ran again this year.
The government scheme is in addition to Southern’s delay repay system, which pays out 25 per cent of a single fare for delays of 15 to 29 minutes, 50 per cent for 30 to 59 minutes and the full single fare for delays above 60 minutes, as well as a full return fare for delays extending past two hours.
Recent figures from Network Rail revealed Southern cancelled or partly cancelled 58,983 services last year, and said the train operator was responsible for nearly two-thirds of them.
In recent weeks Southern struck a fresh deal with Aslef, which will be put to a members’ referendum.
Yesterday, the RMT said a new offer for talks from Southern will “be given serious consideration”. The train operator offered the talks in exchange for the stoppage of industrial action.
The row over the role of the guard has spread to other rail firms though, with the RMT recently holding strikes on Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North. Talks between the union and Merseyrail broke down yesterday.