Friday 7 February 2020 4:05 pm

Train passengers missing millions in compensation, says transport watchdog

There is millions of pounds in Delay Repay compensation unclaimed according to a survey by Transport Focus.

The rail watchdog claims just 31 per cent of passengers say they are alerted by train operators that they are entitled to compensation when delayed.

Transport Focus surveyed 2,000 customers to see how many were made aware of their right to compensation and estimates tens of millions of pounds goes unclaimed every year.

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Most train companies offer a scheme called Delay Repay where customers can apply for compensation if their train is delayed by more than a specified amount of time, usually 15 or 30 minutes.

Virgin Trains, which has been replaced by Avanti West Coast, led the way with 60 per cent saying they were made aware of their rights.

However, for West Midlands Trains and Transport for Wales passengers, those figures were much lower at 17 and 16 per cent respectively.

Around 20 per cent of respondents said they would never claim compensation, while just under half said they “couldn’t be bothered” if the ticket cost less than £5.

Rail firms paid out £79m in 2018-19, down 2.1 per cent on the previous 12 months, but treble that amount of 2014-15.

The report comes ahead of Transport Focus’s awareness campaign, called “Make Delay Pay”.

Among the watchdog’s proposed ideas is a wallet function allowing smaller payments to accumulate and be redeemed at a later point, as well as the option to “swap” compensation for complimentary tickets.

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Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said customers are too often left “in the dark about their right to claim compensation”.

“Despite the promise of ‘one-click’ compensation only nine train operators currently pay out some form of automated compensation for delays and cancellations,” he said.

“It’s vital that train operators actively encourage passengers to claim, making it quick, easy and automated as soon as possible.”