How To... get compensation for a train journey

6 May 2015

trainWe spoken about train compensation before on Bitterwallet, but the whole thing is still far too tricky. As the UK has a variety of different companies, that means a dizzying variation on the rules they have in place. If you're wanting reimbursement or compo from them, any help is worthwhile.

One useful thing is that National Rail has underlying guidelines for those travelling by train. Basically, the National Rail Conditions of Carriage are the underlying conditions for all train travel and they set what compensation you're entitled to.

Train Delays

If your train is delayed or late, then you're entitled to a minimum of 20% of your single ticket or, 10% of your return. Regarding the latter, you're entitled to 20% if both legs of your journey was late. Crucially, your train has be more than an hour late.

A lot of the train companies have different compensatory rules on this, so it is worth checking them first, as they're likely to be more generous with payouts. Generally, train companies will pay out 50% of your ticket if your train is more than 30 minutes late. Don't be surprised if you get vouchers, rather than money. If you'd rather have the cash, be sure to state this clearly when making your complaint.

If you're getting a refunds for season ticket, then your compensation will be based on a calculation of the cost of your daily travel.

Your Rights in a Smartphone App

One thing you should know about is that the European Commission have an app for passengers'rights, should you need to make a complaint. If you want that, click here.


Of course, there's exceptions. If you have a delay, a cancellation or poor service that is deemed to be outside the train's control, then they could well tell you to sling it. What are these things? They include gas leaks, acts of terrorism, fires, things done by vandals, suicides, riots, industrial action, lines that have been closed at the request of the emergency services and... here we go... exceptionally severe weather conditions.

Now, if there's bad weather and you want compensation, Network Rail and the train companies have to be in agreement that the weather is, indeed, exceptionally severe. Basically, that means that, if other types of transport have been affected by the weather - if they have, you don't get any compensation. However, if other types of transport are fine, then it is worth a punt.

One trick is, if severe weather has made your train over 1 hour late, then don't get on your train at all and claim a refund, rather than go for compensation.

Duty of Care if you're Stranded

If you end up stranded because of your train company, you're in business. Basically, your train company should either get you to your destination or, if that's not possible, they should give you overnight accommodation. If they don't, you should raise hell.

TOPICS:   Travel   Complaints

1 comment

  • Henry C.
    My train to London on East Coast (not long before the franchise moved to Virgin) was 62 mins late. Not their fault, but a fault on the lines. Conductor told everyone they'd get a full refund on their ticket and staff were on the platform handing out pamphlets to fill in and claim.

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