When you’re travelling by rail in Britain it is important to know your rights regarding what can be refunded and what can’t be when it comes to your rail tickets.
In life things happen: schedules change, appointments are cancelled, illness strikes, accidents, the list of things that can change your rail travel arrangements is enormous, so knowing how you can be refunded for a ticket you didn’t use is essential.
Most tickets you haven’t used will be refundable, depending on a few factors. This can be a little complicated but we’ll try make it as clear and simple as we can for you.
Stolen or Mislaid Tickets
First of all, let’s look at what to do if your ticket is stolen or mislaid. You are entitled to a refund or a replacement only if you can cancel the original ticket and that ticket was refundable in the first place (see below). You can do this by applying to the company who sold you the ticket.
A charge of up to £10 can be made to issue the refund, so a ticket that cost less than that would not be eligible for a refund. The window for applying for a refund is 28 days from the date of the ticket expiry, so an anytime return valid for a month would be refundable during that month period plus 28 days.
Partially Used Tickets
If you’ve made use of part of the ticket, for example the outbound part of a return ticket, you can still apply for a refund for the unused part of your ticket. However, if the value of this unused part is less than the administration fee, you won’t get anything back.
Non Refundable Tickets
Some tickets are not refundable, for example, with an advance ticket you can change the date and time of the desired rail trip up until the current time passes, but you can’t obtain a refund if you miss the train.
Missing Rail Card
If you’ve been charged a penalty fee or for a new ticket because you didn’t have the rail card used to buy the ticket, present your case to the customer service department of whatever rail company you bought the ticket from and they will refund you. You can only do this once in 12 a twelve month period.
Delays and Disruptions
Trains get delayed, some don’t turn up, and sometimes your reservation can’t be honoured (overcrowded trains etc.), and if you decide not to travel, in these cases your tickets (even otherwise non refundable tickets) will be refunded by the retailer or company who sold you them. There won’t be an administration fee as the fault is not yours.
If part of your journey is delayed or disrupted and you couldn’t travel, that part of your ticket will be refundable. All these claims have to be made within 28 days of the expiry date of your ticket. The train companies aim to have your ticket refunded within 14 days of your application, and should have them done in 28 days.
Season tickets are a little different: they are refundable only from the day you give your ticket in for a refund. A weekly ticket can only be refunded if there are still 3 valid days on the ticket, for a monthly ticket or longer than monthly ticket, 7 days of travel must still be valid for a refund to be made.
You will get back the difference between what you paid for the ticket and the cost of daily return tickets until the expiry of the ticket, but bear in mind there is also a £10 administration fee, so a ticket with a lower value than the administration fee won’t be refundable.
Method of Refund
Tickets are refunded generally in the method they were paid for, so for cash and cheques you’ll get either a cheque or cash as a refund. Paypal, credit and debit cards will be refunded as credit to the account they were purchased from; warrants will be refunded to the warrant account they were purchased from. Vouchers can either be exchanged for cash or other rail vouchers, but this is at the discretion of the vendor.
These are the general rules for obtaining a refund for your rail ticket, make sure you’ve read the terms and conditions of the retailer or train company you purchase it from as there can be small differences in the way they handle such complaints, such as the cost of the administration fees. Each rail company has a Passenger Charter available on their website.
Know your Rights
As a rail passenger in England you’re often subjected to less than excellent conditions on the rail network and prices have gone up relentlessly for years, making it a costly and sometimes unpleasant way to travel. By knowing how to get refunds and what is refundable means you’re protecting yourself and your income.
Your rights are set out in the National Rail Conditions of Travel document, found at the National Rail website; these are regularly updated, so keep an eye on them.
National Rail Conditions of Travel – http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/46427.aspx