Regulator's study shows three quarters of rail passengers unaware of compensation and refunds rights

21 February 2014

Three quarters of rail passengers are unaware of their compensation and refunds rights when trains are delayed or cancelled, reveals a study by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) published today.

As the consumer law enforcement authority for the railways, the regulator conducted an independent study to see if rail passengers across Britain are aware of their consumer rights and how to exercise them. The survey shows that:

  • Over 75% of rail passengers 'do not know very much' or 'nothing at all' about their rights to a refund or compensation when trains are delayed or cancelled.
  • Passengers believe that train operators could do more to promote compensation rights awareness - 74% of the study participants said that train companies do 'not very much' or 'nothing at all' to proactively provide information about compensation when there are delays. 
  • Passengers also suggested more effective ways of raising awareness, such as prominently displayed compensation information on websites; posters at stations; information on the back on tickets; automated claims processes; and compensation in cash or vouchers that can be used online.

This year, the regulator will oversee the development of a code of practice on provision of ticket retail information, which will be in place by the end 2014. The Code will provide clarity on what information passengers can expect from their train companies, including information on the different types of fares, any restrictions that apply, and key terms and conditions, such as compensation and refund rights.

Office of Rail Regulation chair Anna Walker said:

Passengers must be at the heart of the rail industry and are crucial to its growth and success. We want to see that passengers are treated fairly, receive the quality of service they pay for, and when this is not the case, can hold their service providers to account. Our research suggests that simply putting information on a website, or only making it available on request, is not sufficient to help consumers be aware of or exercise their rights.
Britain's rail industry needs to be more transparent and proactive in providing information. This includes data on passenger compensation. ORR will work with industry to develop a code of practice for train companies which will be in place by next year, setting out what ticketing information should be provided to customers to help them make informed choices.

There are a number of industry initiatives already underway to improve passenger awareness and take up of their rights. The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) has developed a 'toolkit' for operators setting out a range of measures they could adopt to make passengers more aware of their compensation and refund rights. ATOC will review the effectiveness of the toolkit in the summer and once the review is complete, ORR will decide on next steps to enhance passengers' rights awareness.

Notes to editors

  1. ORR is the independent safety and economic regulator for Great Britain's railways. Follow ORR on Twitter @railregulation.
  2. The passenger compensation report can be downloaded here: http://orr.gov.uk/publications/reports/rail-passenger-compensation-and-refund-rights 
  3. In spring 2013, ORR commissioned research to enable the regulator to better understand passengers' knowledge of their compensation and refund rights for delays and cancellations.
  4. ORR has also launched a review of the rail ticketing market to understand whether arrangements for selling rail tickets are encouraging innovation and competition to the benefit of passengers.
  5. At this time, data on compensation across the rail industry including the amount of compensation paid out and frequency or number of claims is not consistently captured, reported or published by all train companies. The most current data obtained by ORR from 2010/11 shows that a total of nearly £10.2m was paid out in compensation to passengers by 11 train companies.