Latest Rail News


Watchdog calls for end to ‘unlawful’ TOC compensation schemes

Customer service watchdog Which? has penned a letter to train operators urging them to address their failures in reimbursing customers, and stop breaking consumer law by using “industry-wide terms and conditions as a smokescreen to stop consumers claiming their consequential losses”.

It claimed that the terms of the National Rail Conditions of Travel undermine passenger rights by limiting liability for TOCs who exploit this, and ensure that consumers don’t claim back the money they are rightfully owed.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, which came into force in October 2016, passengers are entitled to claim money back for a range of problems that result from a service not being delivered with “reasonable care and skill” or for consequential losses that come about because of a delayed or cancelled train, like missed flights or taxi fares.

Which? also said it believes that 17 out of 24 train companies do not provide enough information on passengers’ rights on their websites, and do not make it clear enough how to claim compensation back from companies that have failed to meet satisfactory standards.

Its director of campaigns and communications, Vickie Sheriff, said: “It’s now six months since the Consumer Rights Act came into force in the rail industry but train companies are acting as if they are above the law and this is going unchallenged.

“Passengers have rights and must be aware of what they can claim for when they have a problem with their service. Train companies urgently need to address the misleading information they’re providing on their websites and comply fully with the law.”

London TravelWatch voiced its support for the letter, with chair Stephen Locke commenting: “The law now requires that train services should match up to what has been agreed, for example on the basis of information provided, and what should happen when they do not, or when they are not provided with reasonable care and skill.

“However, many people may be unaware of these rights and too many train operators are still providing misleading information which is based on industry-wide terms and conditions.”

He added that it was unacceptable for companies to limit their liability, and that the capital watchdog was pleased that Which? was putting pressure on operators to fulfil their obligations.

But a spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group argued that train operators were not breaking the law with their compensation policies.

“Which? is wrong, train companies are not breaking any laws. Train companies’ compensation arrangements already go beyond what is required under consumer law, and customers are getting an even better deal with new improved rights,” he argued.

“Customers are clearly advised of their rights to money back. All train companies comply with the Consumer Rights Act and display the National Rail Conditions of Travel – which are approved by the government – on their websites.”

Southern passengers urged to claim compensation

Which? has also urged Southern season ticket holders to take the compensation that has been offered by the operator, revealing that around 84,000 customers are owed compensation but 44,000 still have not claimed the money back.

Southern passengers have endured months of misery and a frustrating delay in being able to claim this extra compensation,” said Sheriff. “Southern need to make sure that their customers are fully aware of what they are entitled to as a result of the disruption they’ve faced. We urge season ticket holders to get their claim in before the end of April.”

But the operator argued it has been putting in effort to contact customers who have reason for a compensation claim.

Its passenger services director, Angie Doll, said: “We have spent the last few weeks contacting all the passengers who we know qualify and have details for.  We’re now inviting anyone we have missed or who believes they may be entitled to compensation to come forward and claim.

“Last year was very difficult for Southern passengers and I am glad this scheme recognises this. I would urge season ticket holders to go online and claim if they believe they are eligible for compensation.”

Southern’s customer compensation scheme will close on 30 April.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here. 


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

Rail industry Focus

View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >