Govia Thameslink Railway received 1m of the 3m May timetable chaos compensation claims

Alexandra Rogers
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The May timetable chaos caused severe disruption on the UK's railways (Source: Getty)

Embattled train operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) received 1m out of 3m compensation claims lodged by passengers at the height of the May timetable chaos.

Official statistics by the rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show there were 3m delay compensation claims between April and mid-October 2018 that were closed by train operators, of which 84 per cent were approved and 92 per cent were closed within 20 working days.

The May timetable upgrade last year caused widespread delays, cancellations and overcrowding as operators struggled to train drivers on the new routes. The chaos led to an overall increase in delay compensation claims, especially among passengers travelling on the Northern, TransPennine Express and GTR services, which were the worst hit by the disruption.

Read more: Rail industry launches ombudsman to deal with flurry of complaints following May timetable chaos

The ORR found that 15 out of 23 train operators were above the national average of 92 per cent in closing compensation claims within 20 working days, but Hull Trains, the TransPennine Express and South Western Railway fell short of the average, at 31.8 per cent, 45.7 per cent and 70.3 per cent, respectively.

At GTR, which runs the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern services, 99.9 per cent of the 1m claims it received were closed within 20 days – meaning the claim is agreed as eligible and compensation has been paid, or deemed ineligible and a reply sent back to the claimant.

Great Western Railway closed 76 per cent of the compensation claims it received.

Greater Anglia and Southeastern also closed over 200,000 claims during this period with a response rate within 20 days of 99.7 per cent and 100 per cent respectively.

ORR deputy director for consumers Stephanie Tobyn said: “This is the first time ORR has published data on the important area of delay compensation. Passengers have rightly made claims for these journeys and it is good to see that train companies, in the main, are responding to these promptly.”

“ORR will be meeting with all train companies later this month to review the current timescales for compensation claims, particularly where these are below target."

Robert Nisbet, regional Director of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the railway, said: “We know that services on some routes weren’t good enough last summer due to disruption from the May timetable change and the heatwave the country experienced. We want to make it simple and easy for customers to claim compensation if they’ve experienced a delay, and some train companies have introduced automatic refunds, helping claims to increase by 80 per cent over the last two years.

“As well as delay repay compensation, the industry has paid out additional compensation, worth up to a month’s free travel, for those on routes most affected by the timetable change.”

Read more: 'Systemic failures' led to commuter chaos after May's timetable changes, says regulator