Improvements needed to help passengers get compensation for train delays

18 March 2016

Better information and stronger monitoring of standards are among recommendations called for today by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to help rail passengers get more of the compensation they are due from delays.

In December 2015, Which? lodged a ‘super-complaint’ with ORR about train companies, highlighting that passengers were being doubly disadvantaged by train delays, as the claims process they had to follow for compensation was neither clear nor straightforward.

We were required by law to respond within 90 days. During this time we have met passenger representatives, all the train companies, the Department for Transport, and other franchising authorities. We have carried out extensive research and analysis, including nearly 400 mystery shopping trips and a plain English review of train company websites and compensation forms.

Our investigation has found that progress is being made, with some train companies taking advantage of new technology to improve how passengers get compensation.

However, passengers’ awareness of their rights is not high enough and the information they receive needs to be improved. Our research shows that around 80% of passengers do not claim.

Today we have recommended a package of measures to deliver results for consumers swiftly:

  • A co-ordinated, national promotional campaign by the train companies to increase passenger awareness of compensation available.
  • Clearer, plain English forms, website information, and other written communication to make the process of claiming compensation simpler.
  • Better training to support staff in providing information on compensation.
  • Review of consistency between train company franchise agreements to ensure compensation is promoted more prominently and more often at the time of delay.
  • A clearer licence condition for train companies so that explaining compensation is considered and enforced as a key element of good passenger information.

We will actively engage and closely monitor train companies to make sure improvements are delivering for passengers.

We are also working with Transport Focus on a compensation survey of 8000 passengers and will establish and measure the 'claims gap' between what passengers are entitled to from delays and how much is actually paid out.

ORR Chief Executive Joanna Whittington said:

We want all passengers to be able to claim the compensation they are entitled to. The information they receive needs to be better and the process must be clearer and simpler.
Today, we have made a number of recommendations to help achieve improvements straight away.
This is just the first step, and we will be carrying out further research and analysis and introducing a strong monitoring regime to make sure that the industry is delivering for passengers.

Notes to editors

  1. The Office of Rail and Road is the UK’s rail regulator and strategic roads monitor for England.
  2. Follow us @railandroad.
  3. Read the full Response document at: https://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/21141/which-super-complaint-response-report.pdf
  4. We have produced a summary document pdf icon PDF, 631 Kb on our conclusions including some information on compensation for delayed passengers.
  5. In 2014, ORR published an independent study on rail passengers awareness of their consumer rights and how to exercise them. The research report is available to read online at: orr.gov.uk/publications/reports/rail-passenger-compensation-and-refund-rights