7 April 2016

Train compensation shake-up – get cash now instead of vouchers!

A new law is due to pass that means you’ll be compensated for any train delays or cancellations in cash instead of rail vouchers.

delaysIf you’re a frequent train passenger, there’s no doubt you’ll have experienced a delayed or cancelled train (in fact, you’re probably all too well acquainted!).

In the last year alone, 3% of all trains services in England and Wales have either been cancelled, arrived 30 minutes late or missed a stop (probably your stop), according figures released by Network Rail.

Have a read of our how to save money on train travel guide for more tips on how to pay less.

What the law is now…

Since July 2015, all rail passengers have been entitled to asking for compensation from rail services for delayed and cancelled trains, but whether passengers bother to make claims is another story.

Since this law came into place, it’s been common practice for any due compensation to be offered to passengers in the form of rail vouchers – which is obviously annoying as your money just goes straight back into the business!

The claiming process also takes a lot of effort, so rail companies can often rely on the fact that not everyone can be bothered with the whole slog of asking for their money back. Sneaky!

What the new law will be…

A new law was supposed to pass yesterday that would force all UK rail companies to offer cash instead of vouchers, but for some unknown reason the law has been…err… delayed for another 18 months (and why? The jury’s out on that one).

However, many rail services have begun offering cash in place of vouchers despite the delay in legal changes.

Virgin Trains are paving the (rail)way

Virgin Train
Virgin Trains are way ahead of the customer satisfaction game (aside from that number of cancelled or delayed trains creeping up to 5% for this service).

Not only have Virgin Trains been offering cash instead of rail vouchers to disgruntled customers since October 2015, but they even reimburse customers automatically provided that the sale was made directly on their website or app and not through a third party provider.

So for now, just remember!

It doesn’t matter which train provider you’re using – if you’re more than 30 minutes late arriving to your destination, you’re entitled to a partial refund. Amounts do vary, so check out the provider’s website.

Remember that if your train is delayed due to something out of the control of the rail industry – such as the weather – you’re not entitled to a refund.

How to save money on travel

cat bus

  • Go by coach. Coaches may take longer, but they’re often cheaper than trains. We’ve got a brilliant guide on cheap coach travel to make your money go further.
  • Get a discount card! Invest in a 16-25 rail card and you’ll save a third on all train travel. If you travel more by coach, National Express also do a young person’s rail card.
  • Book in advance. Don’t just rock-up at the train station to buy a ticket! Book online and you’ll find it’s cheaper – and you get to book your seat, so you don’t have to fight other passengers for the last seat on the train.
  • Get a specific train (or coach). Instead of buying an open ticket (where you can get any train), booking a specific train can save you a lot of money – and it’ll improve your time-keeping skills! This isn’t recommended when you have connections to catch, as if this train is late it can invalidate your other tickets if they are also for a specific train.

We have a whole load of money-saving travel hacks over on our student travel page, including how to blag cheaper train and coach tickets, and the best ways to save on flights abroad as a student.

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