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Train company ‘smokescreen’ prevents passenger compensation claims

Which? takes action as train companies ignore legal requirements

Which? has written to train companies, calling on them to address their failure to properly inform passengers of their rights.

The letters call on train companies to stop using industry-wide terms and conditions as a smokescreen to stop passengers claiming for consequential losses.

This makes it difficult for passengers to claim compensation for financial losses they’ve suffered as a direct result of a failure by a train company.

We’ve created a guide you can use to understand your travel rights under the Consumer Rights Act and make a claim for consequential loss.

Train companies aren’t above the law

Vickie Sheriff, Which? director of campaigns and communications, said: ‘It’s now six months since the Consumer Rights Act came into force in the rail industry, but train companies are acting as if they are above the law, and this is going unchallenged.

‘Passengers have rights and must be aware of what they can claim for when they have a problem with their service.

‘Train companies urgently need to address the misleading information they’re providing on their websites and comply fully with the law.’

Passengers that have experienced delays, overcrowding, poor train conditions, short-formation trains or general poor service are being encouraged by Which? to share their nightmare experiences.

Passenger rights and the Consumer Rights Act

Under the Consumer Rights Act, which came into force for the rail industry on 1 October 2016, passengers are entitled to claim for a wide range of problems when a service hasn’t been delivered with ‘reasonable care and skill’.

Passengers also have the right to claim for consequential losses that result from a delayed or cancelled train, such as reasonable costs for missed flights, taxi fares or child-minding fees.

The current terms of the industry-wide National Rail Conditions of Travel undermine passenger rights by attempting to limit train companies’ liability, and they exploit this to ensure that consumers don’t claim for consequential losses.

This attempt to limit liability is not in line with consumer law. Passengers have the right to claim for consequential losses, and train companies are required to make that clear and not suggest otherwise.

Further train passenger rights failings

Which? also believes that 17 of the 24 train companies are not providing enough information on their websites about passengers’ new rights.

Many train companies include references to consumers’ legal rights in relation to compensation on their websites, yet they fail to make it clear that this also covers rights enshrined in the Consumer Rights Act.

Those that don’t are potentially in breach of the Act as well as other consumer-protection laws. The information on many websites may even mislead passengers into thinking that they can’t make a claim.

Which? has written to the train operators asking them to make changes and to respond to Which? by Wednesday 1 March.

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