How to claim back money on train delays

Train delays compensation

After you’ve had a nightmare journey on the railway, often the last thing you feel like doing is reliving the experience by complaining about it to the train company, however, it can definitely be worth your time if you do.

You’re probably not going to get anything if your train turns up two minutes late, but if you’re left on the platform for 30 minutes or more there’s a good chance you’ll be reimbursed with a hefty percentage of your fare. For delays of over an hour most train companies will give you a full refund (50% for return tickets).

We spoke to an industry insider who deals with delay complaints all day, who gave us tips for making a successful claim for compensation.

The rules

train ticket money back

The number one rule is to keep hold of your ticket and reservation. You’ll need them to prove to the train company that you really were delayed. It’s a good idea to snap a picture of your tickets with your phone in case the ticket barriers eat them at the end of your journey too. If you don’t have your tickets any more, a booking confirmation email should do, but tickets are best.

Provide as much information as possible. If you took an alternative route try and keep a note of where you went, it’ll help your claim a lot. Give them all of your contact details too, otherwise where are they going to send your cheque?

Be quick. You have 28 days to claim, so send it in ASAP. If you haven’t heard anything at the end of the 28 days give the train company a call to check.

Always give it a try, if you were delayed and it wasn’t necessarily the train company’s fault you still might be able to get compensation. This is especially true if it cost you more money down the line, so if the delay on your train to Luton made you miss your flight and you had to pay extra to get on the next one, tell them!

Even if your delay wasn’t a full 30 minutes and you have a good story you should give it a shot and you might be given a gesture of goodwill.

Remember when you claim for a delayed train that you are entitled to cash compensation under the National Conditions of Carriage, so if you’re offered train vouchers instead you can and should demand real money.

Delay Repay

Some rail companies are signed up to the Delay Repay scheme where you’ll be compensated for a delay over 30 minutes no matter what the reason, but others won’t pay out if the cause of the delay is deemed to beyond the company’s control (i.e. weather, person ill on the train). The easiest way to find out if who you travelled with has Delay Repay just Google “*train company here* Delay Repay” because a lot of them do, including Virgin Trains, Southeastern, ScotRail and Thameslink.

Even if your train company doesn’t do Delay Repay, there’s still a chance that you could get at least a partial refund. For a full list of train companies and refund policies check out Which’s list.

But what if your train is cancelled?

If your train is cancelled you’re entitled to use your ticket on another service and if you still arrive at your destination more than 30 minutes late you can claim a partial compensation as usual.

However, if you find out it’s cancelled then don’t go at all, you can get a full refund by posting off your unused tickets to where you bought your tickets from.

Does this work on the tube too?

tube delay compensation

TfL has its own compensation scheme, and the delay only needs to be 15 minutes on the underground or 30 minutes on the overground to get a refund. TfL work out delays based on the average time for the journey you take, so if you think it’s taken you 15 minutes longer than usual, it’s worth a try. Unfortunately refunds aren’t automatic, you have until 14 days after the delayed journey to make your claim.

The bad news is that if the delay is deemed as beyond TfL’s control then you’re not entitled to a refund, which means if your journey was held up by industrial action, planned service works or a person under a train then you’re out of luck.

If you think you still have a claim, you need to apply for a refund here or by phone to 0343 222 1234 (standard rate number).

To save more money on trains, make sure that you have your 16-25 railcard and check out our full train hacks guide