What to do if your train gets cancelled, and how to get a refund

Rail passengers suffered yet more delays and cancellations on Sunday, following on from a week of disruption caused by strikes and line problems.

Sunday’s problems were caused by bad weather damaging overhead wires near Peterborough, resulting in dozens of services between London and the north of England being delayed or cancelled.

Earlier in the week train drivers represented by the Aslef union staged six days of strikes in their long-running dispute over pay.

And on Thursday thousands of passengers were stranded on trains after a Great Western Railway service “struck an obstruction” on a line in the Ladbroke Grove area of London, causing damage to overhead electric wires.

Around seven trains – operated by the Elizabeth Line, Heathrow Express and GWR – were affected, leaving passengers stuck in the cold and dark for more than three hours without information.

Can you get a refund for cancelled trains?

If your train is delayed or cancelled and you choose not to travel, your unused ticket can be refunded without any fees by the original retailer.

If you are travelling and arrive late at your destination due to a cancelled or delayed service, you may be able to claim compensation, which you should do directly from the train company you travel with.

Compensation will depend on which train company you travelled with, and the type of ticket you have – for example, compensation for a single day ticket is calculated differently than that for a week-long season ticket.

The length of the delay in arriving at your destination also affects the compensation you receive.

Claims can be made online, or by post using a form that you can download from a train company website or get from a staffed station.

There is also the national delay repay scheme that makes it easier for you to get compensation for delayed train journeys.

National Rail says: “If you are delayed for any reason when you travel on a participating National Rail service you can claim delay repay. The delay is calculated against either the normal timetable, or an amended timetable that is published in advance (for example during planned engineering works at weekends).”

Find National Rail’s information on refunds and compensation here.

Will there be more rail strikes?

On 1 December Aslef announced its members had voted overwhelmingly to continue strike action in their national dispute over pay.

Mick Whelan, the union’s general secretary, said: “We are in this for the long haul. Our members – who have not had a pay rise for nearly five years now – are determined that the train companies – and the Tory Government that stands behind them – do the right thing.

“The cost of living has soared since the spring and summer of 2019, when these pay deals ran out. The bosses at the train companies – as well as Tory MPs and government ministers – have had increases in pay. It’s unrealistic – and unfair – to expect our members to work just as hard for what, in real terms, is considerably less.”

He added: “We have always said that we are prepared to come to the table but the Government and train companies need to understand that this dispute won’t be resolved by trying to bully our members into accepting worse terms and conditions of employment.”

Unions must give at least two weeks’ notice ahead of any strike action.

Rail minister Huw Merriman accused Aslef of “choosing to cause more misery for passengers and the hospitality sector this festive period” instead of putting the latest offer to its members.

He was referring to an offer made in April that the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) says would take “average salaries for train drivers up from nearly £60,000 a year to almost £65,000 a year for, on average, a four-day week”.

Aslef has previously described this offer as “risible”.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), however, have agreed to an offer from 14 train companies, which includes a backdated pay rise of five per cent for 2022-23, as well as job security guarantees.

The deal means RMT workers will not strike until at least next spring.

A breakthrough finally came when the union agreed to put a memorandum of understanding with the RDG to its members this month.

Mick Lynch, the RMT’s general secretary, said: “Our members have spoken in huge numbers to accept this offer and I want to congratulate them on their steadfastness in this long industrial campaign.

“We will be negotiating further with the train operators over reforms they want to see. And we will never shy away from vigorously defending our members terms and conditions, now or in the future.

“This campaign shows that sustained strike action and unity gets results and our members should be proud of the role they have played in securing this deal.”

While a pay deal has been agreed for 2022-23, strike action could resume next spring, as a deal is yet to be reached for the current financial year.