Rail Travel Rights – Compensation for Delays

As a traveller on England’s railways, you’re well protected when it comes to claiming compensation for a delay. You are protected under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the conditions of the ticket provided and the Passenger Charter each train company has.

Passenger Charter – Minimum Compensation

Each rail provider has a different Passenger Charter and accordingly different levels of compensation. You are, however, entitled to a minimum level of compensation if your journey was delayed by at least 60 minutes:

Single or Return

If you travel on a single or return ticket and both the outgoing and incoming journeys are delayed, you are entitled to at least half (50%) of the price paid for your ticket.


On a return ticket, if only one part of the journey was delayed, you are entitled to at least 50% of the price of that portion of the trip.

Season Tickets

For season ticket holders, you’re going to have to look at the Passenger Charter of the rail provider you bought the ticket from as each provider has a different rate and can’t be displayed here.

Rest assured there is a minimum season ticket holders will be compensated: 20% of the price of the ticket, divided by the number of days on the ticket. This applies to weekly tickets, however it can change for monthly or longer tickets. Again, check the Passenger Charter, you might be in luck, some rail companies compensate for delays less than an hour.

Reasons for not Compensating

If you’re rubbing your hands with glee at the thought of getting the compensation you’re owed, please take into account the following: if the reasons for the delay were beyond the control of the rail company providing the journey, they aren’t obliged to pay compensation. Many will, but they don’t have to. So, this includes weather, accidents and suicides on the track, criminal activity and terrorism. There’s quite a lot of circumstances for which the rail companies don’t have to compensate their customers.

It seems like a mantra in this article: check the Passenger Charter for what you are entitled to, they’re all different. Keep in mind that the provider that provided your ticket is not responsible for there not being any trains run by another company or losses that might occur on the other provider’s trains. If you are looking for compensation, you need to go to the provider of the service where the delay happened.

Payment Methods

The methods of compensation vary. You can be compensated with a cheque, BACS (bank transfer), by the debit or credit card you used to pay for the ticket, or by rail voucher. Though policies vary between providers, you are always entitled to be compensated in the way you paid for the ticket unless you choose differently.

“Delay Repay”

A service that is being provided by more and more rail providers is the “Delay Repay” scheme. Essentially, if you’re delayed for half an hour or more, you can be compensated by these providers, no matter the cause of the delay, and the amount compensated depends on the length of the delay.

There is some competition when it comes to offering this service, so it looks to expand as customers choose the services that provide it. You have to claim this repayment scheme, it isn’t automatic, and details can be found in the relevant company’s Passenger Charter.

To Get Your Compensation

You must apply for compensation within 28 days of the delayed journey and send the relevant ticket with the claim. Be sure to ask for the method of compensation you would prefer, the default of many companies is to provide rail vouchers.

Reasons for Being Denied Compensation

If you have not undertaken a journey you had paid for and claimed a refund, you cannot then go on and claim compensation for any delay on that journey.

Your claim is found to be false.

The details you have provided are inaccurate (this can be easily remedied, don’t worry).


If you do not think your compensation claim was handled properly, contact the complaints department of the company or retailer who you bought the ticket from. Should this fail, there are legal services who will take on your claim, or you can go to small claims court, though this is very unlikely.

Exercising Your Rights

Compensation is your legal right, be sure to exercise your right. The financial pressure of compensating customers is a fine incentive for rail companies to improve their services, so not only are you being compensated, you are taking part in improving the rail services around Britain.

By exercising your rights, you do not take away from them. The rail company will not discriminate against you if you have made a claim, and they will treat you fairly, or they should as it is their legal obligation.

Read the Passenger Charter

You have your statutory rights and then you have the rights granted to you by the commercial contract you enter into upon purchasing your ticket. These might be more than you were expecting, the levels of compensation some rail companies give out is fairly high. It is good to know what you are entitled to, so check the Passenger Charter on the website of the provider, and check the National Rail conditions on their site.

Useful Resources

Citizens Advice on the Consumer Rights Act 2015 – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-citizens-advice-works/citizens-advice-consumer-work/the-consumer-rights-act-2015/

National Rail Passenger Rights to Refunds & Compensation – http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/ticket_types/72098.aspx