Train companies’ misleading compensation claims hit the buffers

Train companies are set to amend their terms in order to stop misleading customers about their compensation rights when they lose money following delays or cancellations, after Which? revealed they were potentially breaking the law.

The Office for Road and Rail (ORR) worked with the rail industry to change train operators’ terms and conditions to remove the misleading claim that passengers are not entitled to claim for consequential losses.

“Consequential loss” is a term for reasonable additional losses beyond the cost of a ticket – such as taxi fares or hotel bookings – which are incurred when services are disrupted.

The Consumer Rights Act (CRA) came into force in the rail industry on 1 October 2016, but the National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCoT) and rail companies failed to update their terms to reflect this. Changes to the NRCoT are set to be published on Sunday 11 March 2018 to ensure passengers are not misled about their ability to claim compensation and their entitlement to seek consequential losses under common law.

Under the CRA and common law, passengers are entitled to claim for additional losses when an operator has failed to provide the service with reasonable care and skill. Rail companies have been giving blanket advice wrongly telling passengers they cannot make a claim, leaving people losing out on money owed when they may be entitled to compensation.

Last year, Which? raised concerns that the industry had been failing to make passengers aware about their rights to claim for such losses, by writing to train companies and subsequently working with the ORR.

The consumer champion highlighted that refusing to consider claims for consequential loss was a potential breach of consumer protection law, including the CRA, and called for providers to start complying the CRA and change their terms by the 1 March 2017.

The regulator’s intervention will ensure passengers will not be given the impression compensation is not available to them in circumstances where they might legitimately be able to claim.

Following the removal of the misleading term, Which? is calling for train companies to explicitly state on their websites and in their terms and conditions that passengers can claim for additional losses when faced with a delay or cancellation which is the train company’s fault. Claims handlers must also uphold consumers’ clarified rights when dealing with compensation claims from the public.

Passengers looking for more information and support about how they can claim for consequential losses from a train company can visit the Which? Consumer Rights website for more information and free to use tool to make a claim.

Alex Hayman, Which? Managing Director of Public Markets, said:

“For over a year train companies have been misleading passengers about their rights to claim for out-of-pocket expenses when they have failed to deliver a good service.

“Train companies can now no longer hide behind misleading terms to avoid paying passengers. They need to go further and proactively inform passengers about their compensation rights. If they fail to uphold these rights, they should be held to account by the Government and the regulator.”


Notes to editors:

Examples of train companies wrongly notifying customers they are ineligible for consequential loss after the CRA came into force in the rail sector:

  • Top tips to making a successful claim:

    • Take a note of the date, time, train company and the service you’re on, in a safe place like in an email to yourself or note on your phone.

    • Make sure you include the reason given for the delay or cancellation and how long you were held-up for.

    • Record what impact the service disruption had on you – eg you had to take a taxi because the last train home was cancelled.

    • Keep any receipts and take photos that can support your claim.

    • Use Which?’s free-to-use tool to claim back any out of pocket expenses or consequential losses you’ve had.


  • If you have experienced delays, overcrowding, poor train conditions, short formation trains or general poor service, share your nightmare experiences with Which? by visiting:

  • Rail operators use the National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCoT), which train operators use to contract with passengers.

  • The National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCoT) have been updated to ensure that train companies do not mislead passengers about their rights under the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) to claim for compensation when a rail service hasn’t been delivered with ‘reasonable care and skill’.

  • Which?’s latest annual rail survey shows train companies are failing to provide sufficient information to passengers about available compensation under existing schemes such as Delay Repay. A quarter (25%) of commuters who claimed compensation said the process of claiming compensation from train companies was difficult. Nearly four in ten (37%) of all train passengers who are eligible to compensation actually claim it. One in five passengers who complained to about their rail service also found the process challenging.

    • Research Methodology: In October/November 2017, Which? surveyed 2865 UK commuters about their journeys by train in the last 12 months. The survey was conducted online by SSI, an external research company of behalf of Which?.


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