UPDATE September 06 2018: The operator of Southern Railway and Thameslink says it expects to pay ‘million’s in compensation to those who suffered through months of disruption after bungled timetable changes.
Go-Ahead, which runs the train franchises, is contacting tens of thousands of customers who had been affected by the chaos since May.
Chief executive David Brown said they were expecting to pay ‘millions’ of pounds in compensation.
He said: ‘It was a systemic industry failure and the biggest timetable changes for a generation.
‘We are all mortified by it, but we are getting it right now.’
Chief executive of Which?, Peter Vicary-Smith, said: ‘This announcement is a stark reminder of the sheer number of passengers whose lives were turned upside down during the timetable chaos earlier this year.
‘The firm says it is contacting people affected but it could be doing much more to ensure these customers are not faced with yet more hassle to get the compensation they are owed.
‘The Government should introduce automatic compensation immediately for all passengers to get the money due to them when trains are delayed or cancelled.’
29 June 2018: Some commuters who’ve suffered months of disruption due to the chaos that ensued after timetable changes will receive compensation after suffering weeks of delays and cancellations, it has been announced.
Season ticket holders on Northern Rail, Thameslink and Great Northern on routes hit by severe disruption will be eligible for the special compensation.
For Northern passengers, the region’s transport body, Transport for the North (TfN), said that pass holders in Lancashire, Cumbria and Greater Manchester will receive a refund equivalent to the cost of four weeks’ travel, while season ticket holders in other areas will get a payment worth one week’s travel.
And full details of the compensation package for passengers on Thameslink and Great Northern routes – which are run by Govia Thameslink Railway – are expected to be released within a week, including a list of qualifying stations and eligibility criteria.
Rail travel compensation
The compensation package was agreed with the Department for Transport.
TfN said the refunds will be sent ‘rapidly’, and that compensation for passengers who don’t have season tickets is being looked into.
A series of failures have been blamed for causing the chaos.
These include Network Rail’s late approval of the new timetables, which were implemented on 20 May, delayed electrification projects, poor planning by train operators and the decision by the transport minister to phase in the introduction of new train services.
John Cridland, TfN chairman, said: ‘We know that the past few months have been very frustrating for many Northerners, with those who regularly travel by train being heavily affected.
‘The Transport for the North board has been pressing the rail industry to adequately compensate those who have suffered the most. I’m delighted that we are now able to start doing this, but there is still more work to be done.
‘Compensation for season ticket holders will be administered directly by the train operating companies, with Northern and TransPennine Express due to announce details of how people can claim very soon.’
Rail passengers should be compensated automatically
Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets, said: ‘Compensation is a welcome step, but what passengers really need is for Northern Rail and the government to get a grip on this crisis, and put an end to the chaos that has been having a negative impact on people’s work and family lives.
‘If the rail system is to start working for passengers, they should be automatically compensated for delays and cancellations, and the new rail ombudsman must be up and running as soon as possible, so that passenger complaints don’t continue to go unheard.’
Third new train timetable in two months
Meanwhile, it was announced this week that a new timetable will be introduced in the south-east by Thameslink and Great Northern next month.
It will be the third new train timetable in two months for that part of the GTR franchise, which runs Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and the Gatwick Express.
On its website, GTR is urging passengers to check their journey times immediately prior to travelling using either the company’s journey planner or via the live updates on the National Rail website.
A GTR spokesman said: ‘We are very sorry for the continued disruption following the delayed approval of the new timetable.
‘We are re-planning how we use trains and train crew on Thameslink and Great Northern in order to deliver a new fixed, interim timetable in July that will prioritise peak trains and reduce service gaps, progressively delivering improvement.
‘We urge anyone delayed by 15 minutes or more to apply for compensation. This can be claimed against the original timetable, and there is enhanced compensation for season ticket holders.’
If you’re delayed by 15 minutes or more – depending on the train company you’ve travelled with – you could be owed compensation.
Make sure you get the refund you’re owed for the disruption.