Road vs Rail Unfair Comparison

One of the most annoying things about being delayed on a journey is that more often than not the delay is unexpected. If you are planning to make a journey by train you can at least avoid travelling on days on which strikes have been called or when there may be planned engineering works. However, the causes of most delays to journeys – a road traffic accident, or a fuel spillage or a broken down lorry on a busy road or signalling problems on the railway for example – are unpredictable.

Clearly it would be difficult to compensate specific road users and businesses with a share of the £9 billion it has been estimated highway delays cost the UK economy every year. Imagine drivers and their passengers filling out compensation claim forms every time they had been delayed on a journey by more than 15 minutes; and who would pay the huge sums involved? Rail passengers however do have the option of being able to claim compensation in the same circumstances.

Delay Repay is a national compensation scheme that most train operating companies now use to compensate customers for delays. Southwest trains, (which operated most of the stations and train services in this area until it lost the franchise last year) was not a member of Delay Repay. However, South Western Railways (SWR), the new franchise holder was instructed by the UK government to operate Delay Repay15, a new version of the scheme in October of last year.

Under the revised scheme, from 01 December 2017, you can claim:

  • 25% of your single ticket price if you get to your destination between 15 and 29 minutes late,
  • 50% of your single ticket price if you get to your destination between 30 minutes and an hour late,
  •  a full refund if you arrive more than one hour late.

Different train companies may operate Delay Repay under slightly different rules.  Key features of the scheme as it is operated by SWR include:

i) You can claim on line at or by using the SWR app or by picking up a leaflet/form at your station, filling it in and posting it to Freepost SWR Delay Repay (no stamp required).

ii) SWR ask that claims are submitted no longer than 28 days after the delay occurred.

iii) If your journey involves travelling with more than one train operator you should claim compensation from the company which caused the initial delay.

iv) A claim will not be accepted if you were told about the delay before you bought your ticket

v) If the train you were going to catch is cancelled and your journey is delayed by 15 minutes or more you will be entitled to compensation.

vi) You can submit as many claims as you like as long as you submit them individually.

vii) SWR intend to provide automatic Delay Repay compensation for passengers who have bought season tickets through their website, or use a South Western Railway smartcard by March 2019.

If you’re not happy with the response from your train company you can take your complaint to Transport Focus – they’ll have another look at your claim and make an independent decision. They will expect you to have complained directly to the train company first. You can contact Transport Focus by telephone on 0300 123 2350 Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am to 4pm. If you want help and support at any stage, you can call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 05 or Citizens Advice Waverley.

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