Monday 22 July 2019 1:00 am

Rail passengers 'missing out' on £100m in compensation every year

Rail passengers are missing out on up to £100m a year in compensation, a transport watchdog has found, as it called on consumers to claim whenever they can to send a message to train operators to improve.

Transport Focus is today launching a campaign aimed at encouraging passengers to claim for any delays or cancellations.

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

Its research found that just over a third of passengers claims £81m in compensation in 2017-18, meaning as much as £100m remains unclaimed from train operators every year.

Meanwhile, 39 per cent of passengers claimed compensation for journeys delayed for 30 minutes or more, which fell to 18 per cent for delays of 15 minutes or more.

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Too many rail passengers miss out on compensation for late running trains.

“When things go wrong train operators must ensure every eligible passenger knows about delay repay and how to claim.

“They must also do more to make it easy to claim and automate this process wherever possible.To make their voice heard passengers must claim every time.”

While most train companies now offer compensation through delay repay, the watchdog says more needs to be done to ensure that passengers are aware they can claim, including by making announcements on trains.

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said: “We want passengers to get the compensation they’re entitled to and train companies have helped to increase compensation payments by 80 per cent over the last two years. Working together, we’re sending personal alerts through Facebook, making more station announcements, and more train operators are offering ‘one click’ or automatic compensation.”

Earlier this year Keith Williams, the former British Airways chief executive tasked with a full-scale review of the railways, hinted that the industry regulator could be tasked with handling compensation claims.

Read more: Rail review head Keith Williams hints at compensation role for industry regulator

Williams said the routes to claiming compensation were “not obvious” and that it needed to be “made clear”. He said he has asked the rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), to look at how it thought compensation should look in the industry.

Last year the government commissioned Williams to carry out the “root and branch” review of the railways following the May timetable fiasco, in which thousands of trains were delayed, cancelled and overcrowded. The findings of the review are due to be published this summer, in time for the government to produce a white paper in the autumn.