Five million people will not get railcard refund or extension

More than five million people will not be getting a refund or extension on their railcard, despite travel dropping dramatically since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The scheme, which offers people a third off some rail travel, is available to a wide range of groups across the UK – including senior citizens, 16 to 25-year-olds, and families with young children.

Most of the cards cost passengers £30 for a year, meaning that refunding the 5.1 million customers across the UK could cost upwards of £150 million.

The Disabled Persons railcard is available at the cheaper rate of £20 per year.

Railcard says the potential cost of refunds is behind the decision as they try to maintain infrastructure at a time when demand has dropped.

A Railcard spokesperson said: “We understand that this decision may not be the news our customers had been hoping for.

“Refunding or extending Railcards for over 5.1 million customers would come at a significant cost to the taxpayer at a time when the focus must be on maintaining rail services to support the country’s recovery from the pandemic.”

The Government also emphasised the importance of maintaining services while passenger numbers are down.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We took immediate action at the outbreak of the pandemic to support the rail industry, keeping the services people depend on running, protecting jobs, and delivering refunds on all advance fares, as well as removing charges for cancellations.

“With fares revenue having fallen to less than 5% of pre-Covid levels, we must ensure we are fair to taxpayers and focus investment on maintaining services, to enable social distancing and support our economic recovery.”