Know your rail rights: ticketing

5 February 2020

By Anna Saunders, Senior Manager, Consumer Policy.

Anna Saunders, Senior Manager, Consumer Policy How well do you know your rights when it comes to your train ticket? If the answer is not very well, don’t worry, our research shows you are not the only one.

The National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCoT) form part of the contract between you the passenger and the train company. However, 34% of respondents in our research said they had never heard of the NRCoT and while many said they had some familiarity, further analysis discovered this was based on assumption rather than actual knowledge.

While the relative low cost of train tickets may seem not to warrant the time spent reading the terms and conditions (T&C’s), these cover your rights and obligations as a passenger, such as the requirement to have a valid ticket, your right to compensation for delays and your right for assistance during disruption, so it is worthwhile taking the time to familiarise yourself with them.

Improving the passenger experience

Our research plays an important role in improving the passenger experience. As a consumer law enforcer we work to ensure that businesses operating in the rail sector are fair and open in their dealings with consumers. This includes ensuring that passengers can easily access information about their rights, obligations and any restrictions attached to their journey.

As part of our research we also looked into awareness specific to ticket type and format. We found that:

  • language used for season ticket T&C’s, particularly refund rights, was confusing;
  • language used was ambiguous, such as for admin fees for refunds;
  • there is some uncertainty on where to find the NRCoT when buying a ticket; and
  • off-peak ticket T&C’s had the lowest awareness overall, including the option to break a journey.

Next steps

It is clear from our research that work is required to help passengers be better informed on T&C’s.

As a result, we have today launched a ‘Know Your Rail Rights’ awareness campaign on social media. This is specifically designed to inform passengers on key T&C’s, both with regards to specific ticket types, and more generally as part of their rail ticket contract with the train operator. Check out our social media platforms for more info.

We are also working with stakeholders in the rail industry to identify further opportunities for improving communication and clarity of T&C’s. This will complement work already underway across the industry such as proposals for fares reform and industry awareness campaigns about delay compensation rights.