If your train is cancelled or delayed and you choose not to travel, you can get a full refund. If you decide not to travel for another reason, you can usually get a refund if you pay a handling fee.
If the train is delayed and you still travel, you may be able to get compensation from the train company. How much compensation you can claim will depend on which company you bought your train ticket from.
This page helps you decide if you're entitled to a refund or compensation and explains how to make claims.
When can you claim a refund?
You are entitled to a full refund to any kind of ticket if:
- your train is cancelled or
- you decide not to travel on a train that is delayed.
If you decide not to travel for any other reason, you can usually get a refund but you’ll be asked to pay a handling fee of up to £10. You may only get a part refund or no refund, if you have a reduced or discounted ticket, such as an advance ticket.
How to claim a refund
There are two ways of claiming your refund:
- take your ticket to any ticket office at the time you decide not to travel - they must give you a full refund
- return an unused ticket to the train company within 28 days.
When can you claim compensation?
Different train companies have different compensation schemes. The minimum compensation train companies must give you is set out in the National rail conditions of carriage.
Under this minimum compensation, you will only be able to claim if the train company was responsible for the delay or cancellation. This could include delays because of engineering works but not because of exceptionally severe weather conditions or vandalism.
If the train company has given advance warning of engineering works and altered the timetable you will not normally be entitled to compensation.
Minimum compensation if you travel and are delayed
If you can travel but the train is delayed by more than an hour, you won't be entitled to a full refund but you will be entitled to some compensation. The minimum compensation is:
- if you bought a single ticket – 20 per cent of the ticket value
- if you bought a return ticket and one leg of the journey is delayed – 10 per cent of the ticket value
- if you bought a return ticket and both legs of the journey are delayed – 20 per cent of the ticket value.
The train company will give you your compensation in the form of National Rail vouchers. These vouchers are valid for one year and can be exchanged for a ticket on any railway service, but can’t be used online.
If you don’t want your compensation to be paid in vouchers you should ask for another method but the company may refuse.
Many train companies offer a more generous compensation scheme called ‘delay repay'. Under this scheme they will compensate you if the train is 30 minutes late and will pay more than the minimum level of compensation. You will be able to claim compensation even if the company wasn’t responsible for the delay, for example because of bad weather.
Each train company sets its own level of compensation so you should check the company's Passenger's Charter which you should be able to find on their website.
If there is a regular delay of under 30 minutes and you are a season ticket holder it is worth asking your train company to pay compensation, but they don’t have to.
How to claim compensation
You must ask for compensation as it isn't given automatically. You can claim your compensation on the spot or by writing to the customer services section of the train company.
You can get details from the ticket collector or from the station where you bought your ticket or where your train arrived. You have to claim within 28 days. Make sure you keep your ticket as you'll need it as evidence if you make a claim.
No ticket often means no compensation.
If you make your claim by post, make sure you get a certificate of postage. If there is any problem with your claim the certificate will prove the date you posted it.
Claiming compensation for taxis or accommodation
You may also be able to claim a refund of a taxi fare if you're stranded at a station because of a delayed train. However, the train company may not pay this unless you told the duty manager at the station that you were going to have to take a taxi and they couldn't get you to your destination in any other way.
Claims for additional expenses, like overnight stays, can be considered in very exceptional circumstances.
If you aren't happy with the way a train company deals with your claim for compensation you can complain:
Other useful information
- For information about your rights and responsibilities when travelling by train see National Rail Conditions of Carriage at www.nationalrail.co.uk.