Train delays and cancellations - your complete guide to refunds and compensation

UPDATE: This guide has ben been updated and re-published; you'll find the new guide here

Winter storms have had the damned gaul to strike the UK during Winter of all seasons and throw our world into chaos. For some reason another day of snow is still the top news story and everybody has forgotten how to drive properly. Public transport has gone to the dogs too - this afternoon, the East Coast website listed no fewer than three dozen service updates as trains were subjected to delays or cancellations.

Of course it doesn't take a little snow to screw the trains up - every train franchise is capable of delaying and cancelling trains without the need for Icy Blasts From Siberia™. But if your journey is disrupted, what can you do about it? Most train companies offer refunds and compensation of some sort, although nearly all bury the details deep in their website. What you can claim for differs from service to service, as does the nature of the disruption required to trigger a claim, and the method of claiming itself.

So for your occasional/regular use during the bad weather and throughout the year, we've hunted down each of the major train operator's policies for delayed and cancelled services. Each link should take you direct to the details in question. Let us know if we've missed any major players, and how you get on with your claims - according to their own charter, Virgin Trains stop just short of giving you a piggy back home when things go wrong. How does their Passenger Charter match up in real life? How do the other train services look after you when they have to give you your money back?

[Note - Bitterwallet reader Martin points out if a train company doesn't give details on their website there are minimum rights set out in the National Conditions of Carriage from page 15 onwards]

Arriva Trains Wales - Delayed trains and refunds

C2C - Passenger Charter

Chiltern Railways - Passenger Charter, pages 11 & 12 [PDF]

CrossCountry - Passenger Charter, pages 10 to 13 [PDF]

East Coast - Delay Repay

East Midland Trains - Passenger Charter, pages 6 & 7 [PDF]

First Capital Connect - Delay Repay

First Great Western - Compensation for Delays

First Hull Trains - FAQ

First Transpennine Express - Passengers' Charter, page 17 [PDF] thanks to Bitterwallet reader Martin!

Gatwick Express - To apply for a refund

Grand Central - Refunds and Compensation

Island Line Trains - Passengers' Charter

London Midland - Passenger's Charter, pages 18 & 19 [PDF]

Merseyrail - Passenger Charter

National Express East Anglia - Passenger's Charter

Northern Rail - Passenger's Charter

ScotRail - Passenger Charter, pages 20 to 23 [PDF]

Southeastern - FAQs

Southern - Delay Repay

South West Trains - Passengers' Charter

Tranpennine Express - Passengers' Charter page 17

Virgin Trains - Passenger Charter, pages 5 & 6 [PDF]


  • Michael
    Northern Rail are useless when it comes to complaints. It has just taken me two months to get any form of offer after Northern left me stranded in Manchester and then Huddersfield in the early hours due to a series of fuck-ups - all of which could have been prevented / resolved by a pissed guinea pig. All I was offered in the end was £35 in vouchers and 6 all day travel passes "valid for any Northern service" - like I want to use one of those again?
  • SnowOnTheLine
    FCC are great at refunds. As soon as the delay goes over 30 minutes, you can get half your fare back, and if it's over an hour late, all of it. If one of the regular travellers is on a train that becomes so late you can claim, they send an email to the rest of us, and we all claim. Free money. Thanks FCC
  • Martin
    Tranpennine Express also have a passenger's charter, details of refund rights and whatnot start on page 17 If a train company doesn't give details on their website there are minimum rights set out in the National Conditions of Carriage (bottom of page 15 onwards)
  • Huge_Helmet
    wow - unless you copied this information from another site then hates off to you for finding it :D
  • Paul S.
    Thanks Martin! I'll update the post. Helmet - hopefully you meant hats... :) no, it's all our own work, and let me tell you - I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon than reading through two dozen passenger charters.
  • St P.
    This is an excellent post! Very informative, thank you! But it isn't just these services that have been affected; did you hear about what happened with the Eurotrain services? They had problems because of the snow too, although the services were only reduced, not cancelled. I got back from holiday yesterday and we had taken the Eurotrain, so we missed the trouble. People should check all the main station websites for info =) Jen.
  • Murray
    "FCC are great at refunds"? That's nice. But what happens when the train doesn't exist in the first place? I went to Elephant & Castle station, bought tickets for myself and three friends. Then when we went towards the platform found that there were no trains running that day. There were no signs saying so at the ticket machine. Not until we went to the stairs to the platform. FCC's response: "You should have checked on our website." There were no signs telling us where to get the replacement bus service. I am not sure that there was one. A passing police officer had no idea. Bus drivers had no idea. We gave up and went home. Because our tickets were for less than £10 our money will not be refunded - because they charge a £10 administration fee for such refunds. Basically, as far as I am concerned, the company defrauded us. If there are no trains running then turn off the ticket machines. They took our money under false pretences. They can claim otherwise but facts are facts. FCC ripped us off.
  • Peter
    London Midland have an online repayment scheme - saving post etc. You have to register and you have to send a scan of your ticket, but it is quite simple otherwise.
  • Martin W.
    I regularly get refunds from London Midland when my train is late. What I would like though is a way to find out which trains were late on any day that I travel so that I could get a refund even if I wasn't waiting for it. That would make commuting about as affordable as it ought to be!
  • Korim U.
    Well Virgin have successfully made a labrynth out of their website with the link to their customer charter now non-existent. I had to endure an hour delay to Manchester yesterday when the train stopped due to signal failure. And on the return journey two trains to London Euston were cancelled after severe delays. I want to applaud Paul the writer of the article for enlightening us on our rights, Thanks mate!
  • Steve W.
    The link for Southeastern at no longer works.
  • Joan B.
    Northern Rail are dreadful - I travel on the Harrogate line - from Burley Park which is the last stop on the line before it gets to Leeds. From there, I need to get to Doncaster for work. There were severe delays on Wednesday when there was no snow. No-one told us why. Nothing came over the tannoy. After freezing for over an hour - I finally got to Leeds (a 6-minute journey). A helpful train guard told me that there had been a train breakdown at Knaresborough. I had to ask at several desks to get the compensation form - a piece of folding cardboard you have to fill out in block capitals. I have sent it off - but they are notoriously slow in responding. Unlike East Coast, you can't claim electronically.
  • Ciaran M.
    I find it outrageous that you can be charged an admin fee by a train company for claiming a refund if you've suffered a poor service. Trains in the UK are a ridiculously expensive monopoly. How can people be expected to travel more sustainably when the cost of tickets is so expensive.
  • Unhappy u.
    Londonmidlands train never to be recommended - terrible disruptions due to staff discontent over pay matters and compensation very poor over cancelled trains with no prior warnings - service definitely to be avoided.
  • John
    South West Trains have a Customers Charter but they routinely ignore complaints and applications for refunds (being ignored three times out of four approaches can't be coincidence). This saves them a lot of money and means they can claim their complaints level is low.
  • perder p.
    Generally I do not learn article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very great article.
  • Fellow c.
    To those that are looking to claim for delays when you are not on the train, that's fraud, and (IMHO) as bad as fare dodges that put up ticket prices for everyone else. :o(
  • investasi d.
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  • catswhiskers
    Just tried the link for First Great Westerns page only to get a 'Page not found error'. Far be it from me to suggets that they've deliberately hidden the information again. Customer service at work...
  • peter b.
    there were over 14 cancellations on the carlisle to barrow line due to driver shortages on 18.13 train last year i left my ticket on train on wednesday which was a weekly ticket iasked the conductor if i could complain as i had to pay for a another ticket which had still 5 days travel on it i phoned the complaint line at leeds and was even though i have bank statement confirming this i had left my ticket on the table for the conductor to check and i had left the train without picking up my ticket explained to person at the complaint line he told me ihad lost my ticket and kept me going round in circles i explianed i didnt want a refund just a travel warrant to cover those 5 days now it wont cost northern rail to be courteus and polite as they have my custom on a weekly basis even though it takes common sense to compensate me for being a regular passenger through the number of delays i have suffered during 2011 i was advised to complain by a regional network train manager they have my address and details i await their outcome on this complaint
  • Nick
    Southeastern trains have sent me 4 letters now refuting my claim on a 4 hour (£192 price ticket) delay on journey in March 2012. Each time they get a different detail of my claim wrong in order to wear me out so i give up my claim. I'm starting to think that they are less than a little corrupt! I am fuming now - lucky i scanned my tickets before sending them off and took photographs of the event to prove it.
  • Phil
    I made a journey that involved 3 separate rail companies. It was the 2nd leg of the journey which resulted in a 1 hour delay to reaching my destination. Do I apply for compensation to the the company that operated the 2nd leg of the journey, or to the company I purchased my ticket from on the 1st leg of the journey?
  • jeff
    Hi can't find any info on stanstead express .I bought a ticket on a ryan air flight , did one stop then it was cancelled and i had to get a taxi
  • Dom
    I travel on Greater Anglia (was National Express) and theres probably at least one major delay every week, their website is okay when it comes to claiming a delay however they just make up a reason to deny your claim. The most annoying thing is they just change the time of the train (without any annoucement) to keep under the 15 minute limit so you cant claim, has anyone else noticed this? Surely there must be a way of going above the train companies head to complain about them i.e some kind of ombudsmen?
  • Gavin
    Hi all Does any one the rights you have when using more than one train company for your journey. I travel from euston to wrexham which involves using Virgin to Chester and then catching the connection to wrexham with arriva. The Virgin train is consistantly late and several train managers have spun the usual crap about phoning arriva to hold the train, which they never actually do. I know this because i check with the staff at the arriva office at chester. The first time this happened, a dispatcher working for arriva put is in a taxi to wrexham without us having to request one.....Great right? The week after we (about 6 of us) were met by a different dispatcher who told us that he would not get a taxi for us and that our delay had to be two hours befoer they pay for a cab. After looking at the charter for both Virgin and arriva, both companies outline the times required for refund eligibility but there is no such time requirment in the sections for getting you to your destination (something which both carriers pladge to do. The problem is that Arriva refuse to help last time because it wasnt there fault the train was late......It wasnt our bloody fault either!!!!..... Is there any way to stop us falling into the inter-compay no-mans land???!!!
  • Charlie
    Train breakdown on transpennine express on 15 June 2014 stops for four hours because of electric wire breakdown.
  • IainC
    Can anybody beat this for a refund record? 1. Train 35 mins late into Lancaster from Eustion, missed my connecting trains so had to take a taxi. 2. Filed an on-line delay repay on Friday. 3. Saturday received the full compensation. Amazing!
  • Ann
    We booked return tickets to Gatwick for a flight at the end of this week. The flight was brought forward so needed to change the outward journeys rail tickets. I had to pay new tickets but saw that I could apply for a refund. To save time on the day, I decided to pick the tickets up from the station when I was on my way to a week working away from home a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately as I was away from home & busy etc, I cannot find one ticket (which is the seat one not the "single to" one). I have informed them but I have been told to get my refund all the tickets I got had to be returned as they have monetary value. I know that there is a monetary value on some but surely not the seat ticket. Surely they should give me the refund without this one ticket?

What do you think?

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