Can I get compensation for train delays and cancellations?

Many train companies have different rules, so it can be tricky to work out what you're entitled to if your train has been delayed or cancelled. Find out more here.

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National Rail Conditions of Carriage

These are the minimum levels of compensation train companies have to offer. Many offer more generous compensation than this for delays, so it's worthwhile checking the company's site for full details.

The National Rail Conditions of Carriage are the underlying rules for train travel in Britain. These conditions set out the amount of compensation you're entitled to. 

The minimum compensation for a delay is 50% of your single ticket (25% of a return, unless you were delayed on both legs) if you're more than one hour late.

These conditions are stingier than most of the train companies' own rules on compensation for delay. 

How do I claim compensation?

The amount of compensation you're entitled to will depend on the length of your delay.

Use our guide to find out how to claim compensation for train delays and cancellations 

Delay Repay

Most train operators are signed up to the Delay Repay scheme. This means you can claim 50% of your journey cost if you're delayed by half an hour, regardless of the reason for the delay. 

If you're delayed by an hour, you'll get a refund of the full journey cost.

National Rail compensation 

The National Rail Conditions of Carriage state that compensation must be provided as cash or National Rail vouchers. 

Having a bad experience with train travel is likely to make you less keen on going back for more so vouchers may not appeal. 

Importantly, if you don't want rail vouchers, you must explicitly request a cash refund or your train company may give you vouchers instead.

Season tickets and compensation

Refunds for season ticket holders tend to be calculated using the proportional daily cost of the price of your annual ticket.

Train companies duty of care

If circumstances within the control of a train company leave you stranded, any train company that can help should. 

They should get you to your destination or give you overnight accommodation.

Tube delays

Transport for London (TFL) offers refunds if a passenger's journey is delayed for more than 15 minutes. 

For tube passengers, this amounts to the fare for the single journey you were making, whether you have a season ticket or have purchased a single fare. 

London Overground and TFL users have to be delayed by more than 30 minutes. 

You must claim within 14 days to be eligible for a refund. 

Exceptions to compensation rules

Some companies, including TFL, Chiltern Railways, Arriva Trains Wales, South West Trains, Northern Rail, Grand Central, and First Transpennine Express, don't yet offer Delay Repay.

As such compensation often doesn't apply if delays, cancellations or poor service happened for reasons outside the train company's control, for example:

  • Acts or threats of vandalism or terrorism
  • Suicides or accidents involving trespassers
  • Gas leaks or fires in lineside buildings not caused by a train company
  • Line closures at the request of the police or emergency services
  • Exceptionally severe weather conditions
  • Industrial action
  • Riots or civil commotion
  • Fire, mechanical or electrical failure or a defect (except where caused by a train company or its trains’ defects)

Smartphone app for passenger rights

The European Commission has launched an app for passengers travelling in the EU. 

The application covers your rights for all modes of transport, and is available on the following platforms - Apple iPhone and iPad, Google Android, RIM Blackberry and Microsoft Windows Phone 7. 

Download the app here.

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Last year 47 million rail passenger journeys were cancelled or delayed by more than 30 minutes. We found only 34% of passengers who may have been entitled to a refund said they actually claimed. The rail regulator’s investigation found a situation much worse with 80% of passengers not claiming. We’re calling on the regulator to keep the pressure on train companies to ensure passengers get the refunds they deserve for rail delays.

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