A 'super-complaint' got issued to the Office of Rail and Road by consumer group 'Which'. They are seeking clarity on poor service claims.
COMPENSATION RIGHTS: The investigation with the UK rail regulator is under way.
It seems too few rail passengers are familiar with their compensation rights for train delays and cancellations.
The ORR is the Office of Rail and Road. They received a maximum of 90 days to investigate the complaint and decide whether the grievance requires further action.
The consumer group 'Which' is one of only five designated bodies permitted by United Kingdom laws to submit a 'super-complaint' on behalf of consumers.
The complaint must be about market features that cause, or appear to cause, 'significant harm' to the interests of consumers, for the objection to be successful.
Research found that of those passengers who may have been entitled to claim compensation, only 34% actually made a request for it. Somewhat alarmingly, a similar percentage remembered getting informed of their rights after their last train delay.
The consumer group also tested whether staff were able to provide customers with sufficient information about their rights. They did some 'mystery shopping' at over a hundred train stations around the country.
The experiment showed that only 18% of cases received a full explanation of how to claim a refund due to a delay or cancellation. More significant was that 63% of the mystery shoppers were not told that they were entitled to request cash compensation instead of vouchers. This was so even after getting prompted by further questions.
Estimates suggest close to 47 million passenger journeys were either cancelled or significantly late during the one year period.
Different train companies operate different compensation schemes. But, the National Rail Conditions of Carriage (NRCoC) set the minimum level of compensation at 50 per cent of the cost of a single ticket (25% of the cost of a return) if the journey is late by more than one hour.
Most train operators have signed up to the 'Delay Repay' scheme. It allows passengers to claim 50% of their journey cost if they get delayed by half an hour. They get 100% if the delay is one hour or longer.
The Office of Rail and Road replied. They stated that the rail industry had been working to improve overall standards of service for rail passengers.
Nonetheless, research had shown that passenger awareness was 'low' on rail fare compensations. The rail regulator also commented that:
"Passengers must be at the heart of the railways and are crucial to its growth and success. They are entitled to compensation when they do not receive the service they have paid for. Remuneration acts as an incentive for the industry to deliver a better service."
The immediate outcome from a review of the 20 year old rail ticketing and compensation rules in the United Kingdom is looking positive. ORR will establish whether the regulations governing ticket selling are still relevant. They will also check if they provide the best results for delayed passengers.
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B20 Year Old Rail Ticketing Rules Reviewed by ORR in the United Kingdom