How ORR’s making it easier for passengers to claim delay compensation

30 June 2016

By Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director for Consumers, Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

Stephanie TobynWe understand that delays and cancellations to journeys are a cause of huge frustration for rail passengers. When things do go wrong claiming the compensation due to you shouldn’t add to that frustration. That’s why we have been working with train companies across the country to improve the information provided about your rights, and to make the process of claiming as easy as possible.

Earlier this year, Which? raised concerns that most delayed rail passengers are unaware of the compensation they are entitled to for delays, and that many don’t apply for it. We carried out an investigation looking at the information provided by train companies to passengers, and the process for claiming.

In March 2016 we made a number of recommendations to improve rail passenger information about delay compensation:

  • Promotion of compensation schemes through a coordinated, national campaign by the train companies to increase passenger awareness of when and how to claim.
  • Clearer, plain English claim forms and website information to make the process of claiming compensation simpler and easier.
  • Better training to support train and station staff in providing helpful and accurate information to passengers.

In the past two months we have been working with train companies, representative bodies and government to ensure that our recommendations are adopted and passengers begin to benefit swiftly.

The first big changes you should see are improvements to the information available online, at stations and on board about delay compensation and how to apply.

We have met with all train companies to agree changes to be made to the information on their websites and at stations as well as to the claims process itself. We have secured agreements that they will make information about delay compensation easy to find and understand, and that the process of claiming is simple and quick.

Where we’ve found specific weaknesses in the information provided by staff, train companies have committed to ensure that training is refreshed and kept up to date, so staff are able to give accurate and helpful advice to passengers.

We have also discussed the potential for developing technological solutions to make it easier to claim and receive compensation such as mobile apps, smart card technology and automatic refunds. Some companies offer these services now, but for others they are still a long way off.

We are going to be monitoring progress, carrying out an audit of printed and online information about delay compensation this summer. We will also be running another mystery shopping exercise, to assess how staff training and knowledge of delay compensation and information at stations and on trains has been improved.

We expect to see these changes make a difference to compensation claim rates by passengers. We will be monitoring the gap between the amount of delay compensation due and what is claimed by passengers. We will continue to update passengers on progress via these blogs, and intend to publish a formal update report this winter.