Train companies breaking consumer law

Which? has written to train companies calling on them to address their failure to properly inform passengers about their rights. Which? has told train companies that they must not use industry-wide terms and conditions as a smokescreen to stop consumers claiming for consequential losses.

Under the Consumer Rights Act (CRA), which came into force in the rail industry on 1 October 2016, passengers are entitled to claim for a wide range of problems when a service hasn’t been delivered with “reasonable care and skill”.

Passengers also have the right to claim for consequential losses that result from a delayed or cancelled train, such as reasonable costs for missed flights, taxi fares, or child-minding fees.

The current terms of the industry-wide National Rail Conditions of Travel undermine passenger rights by unlawfully limiting liability for train companies who exploit this to ensure that consumers don’t claim for consequential losses. This attempt to limit liability is not in line with consumer law.

Passengers have the right to claim for consequential losses and train companies are required to make that clear and not suggest otherwise.

Which? also believes that 17 of the 24 train companies are not providing enough information on passengers’ new rights on their websites. Many train companies include references to consumers’ legal rights in relation to compensation on their websites yet they have failed to make it clear that this covers rights enshrined in the CRA.

Train companies who are failing to make this clear are potentially in breach of both the Act as well as other consumer protection law, as it may mislead passengers into thinking they can’t make a claim.

Which? has written to the train operators asking them to make changes and respond by Wednesday 1st March.

Vickie Sheriff, Which? Director of Campaigns and Communications, said:

“It’s now six months since the Consumer Rights Act came into force in the rail industry but train companies are acting as if they are above the law and this is going unchallenged.

“Passengers have rights and must be aware of what they can claim for when they have a problem with their service. Train companies urgently need to address the misleading information they’re providing on their websites and comply fully with the law.”

Notes to Editors

  1. Passengers who have experienced delays, overcrowding, poor train conditions, short formation trains or general poor service, are being encouraged to share their nightmare experiences with Which? by visiting:
  2. Which? contacted train companies between 16-21 February.
  3. If you would like further details on the train companies that we contacted, please contact Which? on 020 7770 758.

Press Release