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Many Southern passengers still unaware of compensation schemes

Concern has been raised that many Southern Rail commuters are still unaware of the compensation they are owed due to missed or delayed services on the operator’s trains, a survey released by Transport Focus (TF) has today stated.

TF asked passengers in its Transport User Panel questions about Southern’s Season Ticket Compensation Scheme and found that though most showed high awareness of the compensation being offered, one in 10 commuters still were not aware of the cash that was available for them to get back.

At the end of last year, DfT announced that due to a year of ongoing disruption caused by industrial action on Southern services, passengers with a season ticket would be offered the equivalent of a month’s worth of fares to make up for any inconvenience caused.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said: “It is good news that passengers on our Transport User Panel indicate relatively high awareness of this particular compensation scheme and also have found the process of claiming easy.”

The TF chief executive also urged customers yet to claim compensation to do so before the deadline of 30 April.

“Southern must also continue to tell their passengers about the scheme in a variety of different ways to reach those who don’t know or haven’t claimed,” he added.

A Southern spokesperson said: "

"We’re pleased this independent research has proved the success of our publicity campaign.

"We’ve been doing all we can with adverts, announcements and posters to urge passengers to check and claim at by 30 April." 

The watchdog’s findings come in light of other efforts by industry organisations to make compensation schemes more accessible and easy to use for consumers.

RTM reported in March that the government was working on rolling out automatic compensation schemes on Northern, TEP and East Anglia services in the near future, according to DfT director of passenger services Simon Smith, speaking at the Transport Select Committee on compensation.

In February, consumer champion Which? accused TOC compensation schemes of being ‘unlawful’ as they deliberately used confusing and convoluted language: “as a smokescreen to stop consumers claiming their consequential losses”. 

This was a claim backed up in TF’s findings, as two in 10 passengers in the focus group reported that they found the process of claiming compensation difficult. Some passengers with weekly season tickets explained that this was partly due to it being difficult to show proof of purchase for their ticket to Southern.

Similarly, London TravelWatch also made a statement at the start of February to encourage Southern passengers who were eligible to apply for compensation on services they had taken which had not run to schedule. 

In December, the ORR said some TOCs had displayed more progress than others in making it easier for passengers to claim compensation for delays, and all companies should now “move to the next level” by boosting the number of channels available for passengers to claim reimbursements.

Top Image: Lauren Hurley and PA Wire

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