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Has Your Train Been Cancelled This Christmas? (Get Compensation)

December 12, 2017, 2:00 PM
  • Thousands of rail passengers have been sold tickets for train journeys home, despite them already being CANCELLED.
  • Over 2,600 incorrect train services have been offered over Christmas week
  • How can you get compensation?
  • What are the other ways you can get home for Christmas?
Travellers could buy tickets from Paddington station despite it being closed between 24th-27th December. Image: Getty

If this year you’re getting a train over Christmas, you might need to check your ticket.

Travellers who got cheaper advance tickets have been misled, after being offered services that would be hit by engineering works, and therefore not running.

This comes after it was revealed train tickets will face a 3.4% hike in the new year.

Watchdog Transport Focus found that passengers were able to buy tickets for services that wouldn’t be running, or would be disrupted by engineering works.

2,648 incorrect journeys have been offered during Christmas week- if you’ve booked your train ticket during this time, you’ll need to check it isn’t one of the affected routes.

If your train ticket has incorrect information, you may be caught out and have to buy a new one, and possibly pay a penalty.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said, “Being forced to change plans because the railway hasn’t got it right will only result in more frustration from passengers.

“The rail industry must act urgently to make sure the timetable is accurate 12 weeks ahead if passengers are to trust they are on their side.”

If your journey is cancelled, you can get a full refund on your ticket from the train company you booked with, if you claim within 28 days.

To find out if your journey is affected, check your train company’s website.

Passengers are frustrated by delays and cancellations to trains over Christmas. Image: Getty

The watchdog also found that train operators hadn’t released their Christmas timetables 12 weeks in advance.

Six major rail firms failed to offer a full range of advance purchase tickets in the 12 weeks before Christmas, which is when the tickets should be released so passengers can get the cheapest advance tickets.

This means that passengers may be forced into buying more expensive tickets.

By the 13th October, 11 weeks before Christmas, reservations for the Christmas week hadn’t opened on Great Westerns, London Midlands, South Western Railway, and Southern.

In addition, only 15% of services were open for reservation on Greater Anglia and 25% on VirginTrains.

Mr Smith said, “Train operators’ advice is to book early at Christmas to get the best deal, but if the timetable has not been finalised, only more expensive ‘on the day’ tickets can be bought.”

Transport Focus is calling on the rail industry to:

  • Carry out a network-wide review to ensure operators publish correct timetable 12 weeks ahead
  • Notify passengers who have already bought tickets when there have been changes to the timetable
  • Made sure timetable information on the internet which is known to be wrong is removed or warnings are applied
How to get compensation
You’ll need to keep hold of your train ticket if you want a refund. Image: Getty

If your journey has been delayed recently because of the weather, or if you face delays over Christmas, you are owed compensation.

Transport Focus have a guide to different rail companies own conditions, but the National Conditions of Carriage set out what compensation they have to provide.

If your train is delayed by more than one hour, this is what you are entitled to:

  • 50% of your ticket cost for a single ticket
  • 25% of your ticket cost for a return ticket
  • 50% of your ticket cost for a return if you are delayed both ways for over an hour

Compensation will normally be paid in rail vouchers, but if you want it in a different form, contact the rail company.

You can also claim compensation if the toilets are broken, if there is dangerous overcrowding, or if there is no WiFi when you were told there would be.

To do this, take a photo of any problems you encounter, keep your ticket, and email the company’s complaints team.

The amount you will get back will depend on the company.

Alternative Ways to Get Home

Getting a coach is a cheaper and more reliable way to travel at Christmas. Image: National Express

National Express have offered students free travel home this Christmas, but there are other ways to make sure you’re home for the festive season.

Some areas will be able to use their ‘Millenial’ railcard this year, but for others, it may be cheaper to avoid trains.

Coach travel is much cheaper than rail travel, with tickets starting at just £5.

National Express coaches are running throughout the Christmas period, including 81 services that are offered on Christmas Day, when no trains will be running.

Your coach journey is also less likely to be affected by adverse weather than a train, so you’ll have a better chance of making it home.

If you’ll be driving home for Christmas, you could save money with a lift sharing service.

This way, you’ll split the cost of your journey, cut congestion on the roads, and you’ll get some travel company on the journey.

Websites like LiftShare offer safe journeys with members that have been checked and reviews, and you can chat with the person you’ll be lift sharing with beforehand.

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