Many train companies have different sets of rules, so it can be a little confusing to work out what you should get if your train has been delayed or cancelled.
Although the individual schemes may differ, National Rail has underlying rules for train travel.
Find out more by reading our guide below.
National Rail Conditions of CarriageThese 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.
- Delay repay is a national scheme most train companies use to compensate you for delays and cancellations.
- National Rail Conditions of Carriage state that compensation can be paid in cash or rail vouchers.
- Read our guide on how to claim refunds for train delays and cancellations to make a delay repay claim.
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 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.
Importantly, you must explicitly request a cash refund - or your train company may give you rail 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.
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.