Rail service improvements and disruptions

08.03.18

Operators hit by clampdown on ‘misleading’ compensation rules

Train operators are set to rewrite the rules around compensation after a flurry of complaints about “misleading” terms and conditions.

The changes surround the issue of ‘consequential loss,’ a term which refers to additional costs above the price of a ticket, and which TOCs currently argue is not available through their compensation systems despite it being included in the Consumer Rights Act (CRA).

The act came into force in the rail industry in 2016, although consumer group Which? said operators have not updated their terms accordingly, meaning passengers looking to claim were receiving clearly misleading information.

“Train companies can now no longer hide behind misleading terms to avoid paying passengers,” said Alex Hayman, Which? managing director of public markets.

“They need to go further and proactively inform passengers about their compensation rights. If they fail to uphold these rights, they should be held to account by the government and the regulator.”

In response, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents operators, said companies were “sorry whenever journeys are disrupted” and were happily working with the DfT and the ORR to improve the situation.

However, a spokesperson for the organisation added: “It is important for our customers to understand that it is very unlikely they will be entitled to compensation for additional losses.”

They also pointed to the development of the new rail ombudsman – which operators committed to in February – and the rising cost of these complaints across the industry.

“Compensation is becoming increasingly generous and easy to claim, which is why payments have increased fivefold in five years to £74m,” the spokesperson explained.

“As part of our plan for a changing and improving railway, train companies have committed to creating a new independent railway ombudsman to rule on complaints and build confidence in our services.”

Issues of compensation and the delay repay have been particularly prevalent in recent weeks, with the freezing temperatures of the ‘beast from the east’, coupled with Storm Emma, causing extreme weather conditions across the country leading to large numbers of cancelled services.

Top image: Gareth Fuller PA Wire

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