If your train has been delayed or cancelled, make sure you claim compensation.
If you had to pay out-of-pocket expenses because your train was delayed or cancelled, you may also be able to claim these back under the Consumer Rights Act.
Delay Repay compensation
If you’ve experienced a train delay or cancellation of at least 15 minutes or 30 minutes (depending on your train company) you'll be entitled to a full or partial refund for that journey.
You can make a claim regardless of whether it's a return or single journey, or whether you’re travelling on a season ticket.
Most UK train companies now offer compensation under the national 'Delay Repay' scheme. A few are still operating less generous compensation schemes according to their Passenger Charters.
There are some exceptions to the rules, and compensation rules are different when there’s engineering work or strikes happening. You can read more detail on that below.
How much you’re entitled to and how this is calculated is different between single or return journey tickets and season ticket holders.
Nine in ten train journeys are now available as smart tickets - as well as the paper ticket option.
While we fully appreciate paperless tickets will not be for everyone, smart tickets are faster to buy and harder to lose.
If your train operator is signed up to provide smart tickets, you will also be able to use your smart ticket to claim ‘one-click compensation,’ which makes the process of claiming faster. So it’s worth considering which type of ticket you buy.
How to claim train delay compensation
Our guides offer step-by-step guidance on how to get your money back, according to which compensation scheme your train company offers. Our guides also explain how to escalate your complaint if you’re not happy.
- Single (one way) or return journey ticket If you experienced a delay or cancellation while travelling with a single (one way) or return journey ticket, read our guide on how to claim single or return train ticket refunds for delays and cancellations.
- Season ticket If you experienced a delay or cancellation while travelling with a season ticket, read our guide on how to claim season ticket compensation for train delays and cancellations.
Consumer Rights Act travel amendments
If you find you don’t qualify for Delay Repay, auto-compensation or a refund under train company’s Passenger Charter compensation conditions, you may wish to consider a claim under the Consumer Rights Act travel amendments.
You can use the Consumer Rights Act if you've suffered a loss because the train company has failed to deliver its service with reasonable care and skill.
But, if the problem was caused by factors outside of the train company’s control your claim is unlikely to be successful. Common exceptions are listed below.
A claim under the Consumer Rights Act travel amendments may be relevant to you under the following circumstances:
1. If you’ve waited a disproportionate length of time, but don’t qualify for compensation under the train company’s compensation scheme.
For example, you waited 25 minutes to make a 10-minute journey.
2. If your service fell way below the standard you’d expect.
For example, you might have had to travel on a severely overcrowded train because there were too few carriages were available.
3. If you suffered reasonable additional losses or costs (outside of the cost of your ticket), which train companies do not openly offer compensation for.
For example, due to a delay or cancellation you may have missed a connecting journey and had to pay for an alternative service.
Find out how you can claim compensation for a train journey that's been provided without reasonable care and skill.
- See our in-depth guide to make a claim using the Consumer Rights Act
- See our guide to claim compensation or refunds for season tickets holders
- See our guide to claim compensation for single or return journey ticket users
Train companies' duty to you
If you're left stranded due to circumstances that your train company has control over, you should be able to seek help from any other train operator to continue your journey at no further cost to you.
It should get you to your destination or give you overnight accommodation if it’s unable to do so.
Compensation during engineering work
In most cases any disruption due to engineering work is heavily publicised beforehand, and most train companies will publish a revised timetable that sets out when reduced services (if any) will be running.
To claim compensation under Delay Repay (or other industry arrangements) during engineering work you'll need to be delayed long enough to qualify under that train company’s rules based on the revised timetable your train company has published, not the regular timetable.
This is not necessarily the case where engineering work overruns beyond the revised timetable. In this case you may be able to claim compensation based on the regular timetable, as long as your train company is signed up to Delay Repay.
Compensation during strikes
Similarly, sometimes an emergency timetable will be put in place when a strike happens. In some cases this means you can only claim compensation based on delays to services on the emergency timetable.
If you want more information on your delay compensation rights during a train strike see our guide here.
Vouchers or cash?
Having a bad experience with train travel is likely to make you less keen on going back for more, so it’s understandable if vouchers don’t seem appealing to you.
When you start your claim, there should be an option to state how you would like to receive compensation. You are not obligated to accept rail vouchers as compensation, so if you don't want rail vouchers, ask for money.
You might find that you have to explicitly request a cash refund or your train company may choose to give you vouchers as default instead.
There are a few train companies who offer automatic compensation under certain conditions - usually for season ticket holders who hold smart cards.
Which? is calling for all UK train operators to offer automatic compensation. Which? wants to see:
- Automatic compensation introduced as quickly and broadly as possible across the entire rail network and by all train operating companies
- In the short term, increased measures from train operating companies to better inform passengers of their rights to compensation and how to claim
- Full compliance from train operating companies with existing consumer protection laws such as the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Examples of exceptions
If you’re travelling with a train company that doesn’t offer Delay Repay, you might find that there are certain situations where you will be unable to claim compensation or a refund.
Train companies won’t often pay out compensation or refunds if delays, cancellations or poor service happened for reasons outside the train company's control.
These will also apply if you are making a claim under the Consumer Rights Act travel amendments. Common examples of instances which may cause a delay that is likely to be outside of the train company's control include:
- 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)
- The striking of a bridge by a vehicle.
That said, sometimes a train company will offer you some form of compensation if you complain - even if their Passenger’s Charter doesn’t say they wouldn’t in that situation - so it’s always worth trying.
If your train company offers Delay Repay, remember you can claim regardless of the reason for the delay.