Which? turns super-complaint powers on rail industry

Today, Which? is making a super-complaint to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) calling for an investigation into rail delay refunds and calling for action to make the process clearer and easier for consumers.

Train companies are making it far too difficult for passengers to get compensation for a rail delay or cancellation, or even find out they’re eligible, so today Which? is using its super-complaint powers to ask the rail regulator to take action.

The latest figures show 47 million passenger journeys were either cancelled or significantly late in one year. Most train companies’ passengers are entitled to compensation if they’re delayed by half an hour or more but our survey of nearly 7,000 rail passengers found only a third (34%) of passengers who may have been entitled to compensation said they actually made a claim.  Our survey also revealed only around a third (36%) of passengers remembered being informed of their rights after their last delay.

We also mystery shopped 102 train stations and asked basic questions on rail delay refunds. The results show that not enough is being doing to remove the unnecessary barriers to claiming compensation for passengers:

  • In only one in five (18%) instances the mystery shopper was given a full explanation for the conditions for claiming a refund due to a delay or cancellation
  • In six in ten (62%) visits the mystery shoppers left the station not knowing what they might be entitled to
  • In around three in five (63%) cases the mystery shoppers were not told that they could request their compensation in an alternative form to vouchers, even after prompting
  • In nearly four in ten (37%) visits, our researchers were either not given any information at all or only part of the information they needed about how long a delay needs to be before a refund would be due

Today we are launching our campaign to Make Rail Refunds Easier calling for clear information on how to get a refund for delays and for all train companies to offer cash as default. We also want to see train companies held to account if they fail to encourage passengers to claim refunds for delays. Passengers can text RAIL to 80057 to support our campaign.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, says:

“Current proposals to improve compensation for passengers are too far down the track. Even if an automatic compensation system was included in all new franchises from tomorrow, it would take until at least 2025 to cover the whole network.

“Millions of passengers are left out of pocket each year, so train companies must do more to put their passengers first and make rail refunds easier.”

For consumer rights advice on how to claim a refund for a delay or cancellation, click here.

Notes to editors:

  1. Survey methodology: In November 2015, we surveyed 6,986 UK adults online about their journeys by train in the last 12 months.
  2. Mystery shop methodology: Between September 1st and September 11th 2015 we conducted a mystery shopping exercise at rail stations in England and Wales. In total, 20 fieldworkers visited 102 manned stations between them. Fieldworkers were asked to role-play a scenario in which an elderly friend or relative had experienced a delay on passenger rail within the last month.
  3. Passenger delays and cancellations methodology:Based on ORR data, we calculated the Cancelled and Significantly Late passenger journeys for each TOC by multiplying each TOCs passenger journeys by each TOCs proportion of Cancelled and Significantly Late trains. We then summed the Cancelled and Significantly Late passenger journeys of all TOCs. The exact number is 46,933,523, which we rounded up to 47m.
  4. To find out more about our Make Rail Refunds Easier campaign, click here: http://conversation.which.co.uk/travel-leisure/train-rail-dft-refunds-compensation-delays-cancellations/
  5. Which? has super-complainant status under section 11 of the Enterprise Act 2002 enabling it to make super-complaints. A super-complaint allows designated consumer bodies to complain to regulatory bodies, including sector regulators, about market features that are significantly harming consumers’ interests. Now that Which? has submitted its super-complaint, the ORR has 90 days to respond.

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