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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   4 min read

Ever arrived at the train station only to find that your train’s late, or worse – cancelled? In many cases, you have the right to compensation or even a total refund! What are your rights when it comes to train travel in the UK, and how should you go about claiming for a delayed journey? 

What to do if your train is delayed or cancelled : 

1. And you decide not to travel

If you decide not to travel on your intended service due to delays or cancellation, you may be entitled to a full refund. Simply go to the ticket office immediately and return your ticket – you should then be able to obtain a refund. Alternatively, you can return it to the point of sale within 28 days.

2. And you go ahead with your journey

Firstly, you may be still be able to use your ticket on the next available route or service. It’s important to check with station staff, particularly if you’re an advance ticket holder, as the next possible route may be run by a different train operator – and they may not accept your ticket.

If your train is delayed or cancelled and you still go ahead with your travel, you may also be entitled to compensation. If your train operates under the ‘Delay Repay’ system, which the majority do, you are entitled to compensation for delays which mean you arrive at your destination 30+ minutes later than scheduled. This applies to journeys no matter the cause for delay.

  • Delays between 30 – 59 minutes: 50% of single fare
  • Delays between 60 – 119 minutes: 100% of single fare
  • Delays of 120+ minutes: 100% of single or return fare

It doesn’t matter what type of ticket you have – if you’re more than 30 minutes late, under Delay Repay you’re entitled to compensation!

Trains at Manchester train station

How to claim:

Some companies, such as Virgin trains, offer automatic Delay Repay. This means you don’t need to lift a finger – they’ll do all the leg work and your refund should be automatically paid back to you shortly after your journey.

Others require you to apply manually. You can do this by getting in touch with their customer service, visiting their website or approaching a member of staff at the train station or on board, who should be able to help you with obtaining the correct paperwork. Make sure to claim within 28 days of the delayed journey and hang on to your tickets as you’ll need these to make your claim.

What to do if you change your plans 

1. If you want to cancel your ticket

If you’ve already bought your train tickets and you decide not to travel, you may be entitled to a full refund (less a £10 administration fee). Simply return the ticket to the place where you bought it, before the date of travel, to obtain a refund.

To obtain a refund for a ticket within 24 hours of the planned travel date, you’ll need to visit the ticket office.

*If you hold an advance fare ticket, you are unable to obtain a refund*

2. If you want to change your ticket

Advance: For an administration fee of £10, you can to change your existing advance fare ticket for another advance fare ticket. Alternatively, you can upgrade it to your desired ticket and pay the difference between the two. This can be done online or over the phone via the operator or agent from whom you bought the ticket, or at any booking office.

Off-peak: Your off-peak ticket has time limitations however can still be used on multiple services for your intended route on the date of travel for which it is valid. To change the date of travel, cancel the ticket and buy a new one.

Anytime: Anytime tickets are more flexible: they can be used on any service for the route purchased, within two days. To change the route, cancel the ticket and buy a new one.

Eurostar train station

International services (Eurostar)  

If your train with Eurostar is over 1 hour late, you have the right to obtain an e-voucher which can be redeemed on Eurostar services, or a partial refund of your ticket, depending on the following time frames:

  • Delays of between 1 – 2 hours: 25% of your ticket price
  • Delays of between 2 – 3 hours: 50% of your ticket price
  • Delays of 3+ hours: 75% of your ticket price

Claim compensation with Eurostar via this form.

Extra charges incurred as a result of a delay or cancellation 

In some cases, you will be able to claim compensation for any additional costs incurred as a result of the delay or cancellation. For example, if your train to the airport is cancelled or delayed and you have to get a taxi as a result, you may be entitled to some compensation.

This isn’t the case with all operators, however it’s worth a shot! We’d recommend finding a member of staff at the train station, explaining the situation and asking for help. Alternatively, get in touch after your journey to explain the extra charges you incurred and ask whether they can contribute towards them. There’s no harm in trying, right?!

*Please note that each train operator may have different policies regarding refunds, cancellations, compensation and journey amendments. We advise you to check with your train operator or travel agent regarding individual cases! Check out the National Rail Conditions of Carriage for more information*

IMG: camera_obscura [busy], Eurostar misery, James Cridland / Flickr cc. and Shutterstock

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