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Further delays in store for rail passenger rights

Travel rights under Consumer Rights Act delayed

train delays

The government is set to delay implementing enhanced rights for rail passengers by 18 months, Which? has discovered.

Earlier this month, it emerged that the government is set to delay the implementation of the Consumer Rights Act in sea and air travel until October 2016. 

And now, Which? has discovered that rail will be delayed by a further 12 months until October 2017.

The Consumer Rights Act came into force across most sectors in October 2015 and was initially due to apply to all travel sectors from 6 April 2016.

We’re calling on train operators to improve compensation for delays and if they don’t, we want the regulator to take enforcement action. Join our campaign to make rail refunds easier.

More train delays for consumers

This delay means consumers will now have to wait another 18 months to be able to claim a full refund or compensation when a train operator does not deliver a service ‘with reasonable care and skill’.

The delay is also set to undermine the recommendations outlined just two weeks ago by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) in response to our super-complaint.

These recommendations include a call for more action to improve passenger compensation arrangements by October 2016.   

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘The government must not give rail companies a free pass for another 18 months and instead should bring the new consumer law into force for passengers without any further delay.

‘It’s bad enough that millions of delayed travellers already miss out on the compensation they’re due because of a complex, out-of-date and badly run system. It adds insult to injury when the government tries to sneak this past Parliament.’

Which? believes the government should bring all provisions of the Consumer Rights Act for rail services into force at the same time as the rest of the travel sector, rather than granting the rail industry an unnecessary exemption.

Parliamentary process questioned

Which? has asked the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments in Parliament to investigate the government’s approach to extending this exemption to rail travel.

A Statutory Instrument is a piece of legislation that’s not subject to full parliamentary scrutiny. Statutory Instruments can be used, as in this case, to set out when other pieces of legislation will come into force.

We’re concerned the proper process hasn’t been followed to the disadvantage of consumers. Here are some of the concerns we’ve raised with the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments:

  • We are disappointed the Statutory Instrument was published without a full response to a government consultation seeking views on the implementation of the Consumer Rights Act in the travel sectors.
  • The six-month extension of the exemption was also hurriedly published on the day before the Consumer Rights Act was due to come into force for travel companies, while Parliament was on recess. There has been no parliamentary scrutiny of the extension.
  • The Statutory Instrument allowing for this extension was dated 22 March – the date it should have been signed by the Minister. But it was only made public when the government provided it to the Journal Office in Parliament on 5 April.

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