Today, it has been revealed that rail passenger time lost to delays and cancellations last year was the worst since records began.
Passengers, on about 80 trains a day, experienced significant delays. Eight million passengers were held up for a minimum of 29 minutes.
But, in some ways, they were the lucky ones.
What about the passengers, whose trains were simply cancelled – an average of 660 a day, the worst since comparable records began – left stranded?
These passengers have failed to get to work on time or arrive at important business meetings. They’ve missed flights and hospital appointments and concerts.
That’s why I’m backing a call for automatic compensation for rail passengers who experience delays and cancellations.
The campaign is being co-ordinated by Which? and is supported by nearly 100 MPs across all parties. We are also calling for simpler and easier compensation processes to be introduced across the rail network.
For passengers on the MidlandMainLine things have been worse. Last year’s disastrous timetable chaos left the personal and professional lives of thousands of passengers in tatters.
The government forced the implementation of a new timetable which lengthened journey times on peak services between London and Sheffield. Now we know that not only was the timetable worse but more of these slower trains actually arrived late.
As it happens, East Midlands Trains (with 0.8 per cent significantly late and 2.3 per cent cancelled) was one of the best performers. But TransPennine Express actually cancelled 10% of their services.
So, after a record year for disruption, and with passenger trust in our rail services at a new low, the case for making compensation automatic has never been clearer. Passengers lost almost four million hours to significantly delayed train journeys.
Currently passengers claim for only a third (34%) of journeys where money is owed for delays and cancellations, because the claims’ process is complex.
According to Which?’s annual rail passenger survey, around a third (36%) of journeys were not claimed for because passengers didn’t know how or where to claim, a third (32%) were not claimed for because it was too much effort, one in five went unclaimed (20%) because the compensation received would not have been very much and for one in seven (15%) it was because it would be too difficult or time consuming.
For six in ten (59%) journeys, passengers were not informed of their right to claim compensation. And found train companies are making it a struggle for passengers to get compensation by demanding up to 24 separate pieces of information during the claim process
That is why we are calling for a simpler compensation process which ensures passengers get what they are owed. If the rail system is to start working for passengers, urgent action is needed to improve punctuality, reliability and compensation when things go wrong.