Southern Rail customers denied compensation

Operator apologises for errors


The train operator that runs Southern Rail, Govia, has been accused of failing to pay customers the compensation they're due - because the passengers have been too slow.

Govia, which runs the Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express services, has been the UK's worst performing rail company for the last two years.

And in the run-up to Christmas, it received thousands of claims for compensation following delays caused by breakdowns, signal failures and cancellations due to driver shortages.

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But according to the Guardian, it has been rejecting valid claims on the basis that they were filed too late.

The Delay Repay scheme was launched in October, and promises passengers compensation if a train is held up by more than 15 minutes, as long as they get their claim in within 28 days.

However, one passenger said she filed a Delay Repay form on 16 November after a delayed journey from Sandwich to Horsham on 1 November - and was startled to receive a letter from the operator saying that she was outside the 28-day period in which she could claim.

"I have asked them to explain how they manage to calculate that there are more than 28 days between the 1st and 16th of November," she says. "So far, no response, except their inability to match a name with a reference number."

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Govia says the letters were an error, and down to a computer glitch. It's promised to contact all those affected.

But it's not the first time that the operator has been slated over the way it deals with customers experiencing disruption.

Last month, it announced that season ticket holders would be eligible for refunds. But campaign groups criticised the offer, saying that the vast majority of beleaguered passengers wouldn't get a penny.

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The current strike over the introduction of driver-only trains by Southern drivers continues. Further strikes have been called for Friday and on 24, 25 and 27 January.

"I am deeply disappointed and frustrated that the union has insisted on this damaging and disruptive strike action, which will cause misery for thousands of people," says transport secretary Chris Grayling

However, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tells Radio 4 be believes that Southern has 'behaved in a terrible manner', and says Govia's franchise should be taken back into public ownership.

How to get cheaper train tickets

How to get cheaper train tickets