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09.09.16

Passenger compensation reforms to come into force on 1 October

Rail passengers will be entitled to seek statutory redress from 1 October this year after the government announced it will no longer delay implementing the Consumer Rights Act 2015 for rail.

Under the Act, rail passengers will be able to seek statutory redress if TOCs “fail to provide a passenger service with reasonable care and skill”. This includes compensation for delays.

The government initially said it would delay applying the Act to rail until April 2016, and then postponed that further until October 2017.

In a letter to Louise Ellman MP, chair of the Transport Select Committee, Paul Maynard, the new rail minister, said: “The 12 month exemption from one of the compensation provisions in the Consumer Rights Act was originally proposed to allow time for operators to move to a consistent compensation scheme.

“However, the government is now of the view that rail customers should not be denied any consumer rights or protections even for a temporary period while the rail industry works to put in place more consistent compensation arrangements between train operators. The government has today withdrawn the draft statutory instrument which would have put this exemption in place.”

He said that existing rail industry compensation schemes will remain the main means of compensation for passengers. However, he added that the government will support TOCs in expanding automatic delay repay schemes.

Last year, consumer rights group Which? made a super-complaint to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) about compensation to passengers for delays. The resulting report found that around 80% of passengers do not claim compensation due to a lack of awareness about their rights.

Alex Neill, director of policy and campaigns at Which?, said: “We are pleased that the new rail minister is committed to putting passengers first.

“The pressure is now on train companies to ensure they are ready to implement the necessary changes to the current compensation system and make it easier for passengers to claim for delays and cancellations.”

Which? is now campaigning for the government to introduce a statutory ombudsman that all TOCs would be required to join to resolve passenger complaints.

In April, Virgin became the first TOC to voluntarily implement the requirement under the Consumer Rights Act to offer compensation as money instead of vouchers.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “Train companies already make compensation available to customers beyond what they are entitled to under consumer law, and we want to give our customers an even better deal. We’re making claiming compensation simpler and clearer too.

“All train operators will comply with their Consumer Rights Act requirements by 1 October this year at the latest, including offering compensation by the method the customer bought a ticket. Customers will always be clearly advised of their right to compensation this way.

“Train companies already offer customers cash as compensation for delays, whether in the form of a cheque or a voucher which can be exchanged for cash at a ticket office and we are looking at other ways to make it even simpler and quicker for people to get the compensation to which they are entitled in cash.”

(Image c. Johnny Green from PA Images)

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Comments

Jerry Alderson   09/09/2016 at 13:25

RTM quoted: Under the Act, rail passengers will be able to seek statutory redress if TOCs “fail to provide a passenger service with reasonable care and skill.” Where does this leave Transport Focus? TF will still have plenty to do, such as the last-resort appeal on penalty fares, but presumably rail users can bypass it completely on certain types of financial complaints. A quote or mention of TF woudl have made this a more elightening article.

Andrew Gwilt   09/09/2016 at 14:59

Could be a good thing as more passengers do compensate on whether their trains have been delayed or cancelled then they can get compensation.

Kmw   28/09/2016 at 06:33

Presumably they will still refuse to compensate for planned cross rail disruptions though.

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