Southern rail owner Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) will soon shell out for more passenger delays.
It has announced today that passengers on Thameslink and Great Northern using a key smartcard will now be automatically compensated for delays of 15 minutes or more.
In the coming weeks, the system will also roll out to the wider Southern and Gatwick Express network, with GTR expecting thousands more people to be compensated this way. Southern rail has been beset by long-running troubles with a year-long industrial dispute causing disruption for passengers.
GTR carries around 326m passenger journeys a year.
The automated system uses algorithms after the customer has tapped in and out, and will be able to tell if the journey was delayed by 15 minutes or more.
If the system detects the journey was delayed by 15 minutes or longer, it sends an automatic claim to the customer's online account, which the customer then has to review and confirm the method of payment preferred.
Thameslink and Great Northern's passenger services director, Stuart Cheshire said:
While our punctuality continues to improve for the sixth month in a row, inevitably, there will still be delays to some journeys. Now, with automatic delay repay it couldn't be simpler to get compensation when this happens, but you have to have a key smartcard to benefit from this amazing new system.
The system will run alongside the conventional delay repay claim process and won't replace it, so claims for delays of 15 minutes or more can still be made the usual way.
The industry is working to improve compensation for customers disrupted by delays, and research last year by the Office of Rail and Road noted that 80 per cent of those entitled to claim compensation do not do so.
Southern rail paid out £1.6m in compensation to rail customers for the year to March 2015. In December last year, GTR and the government said over 84,000 Southern rail commuters would be offered compensation after the long-running disruption on the network. Season ticket holders were able to claim a refund for the equivalent of one month's travel.