Train passengers lose 3.6 million hours battling significant delays - study

Passengers lost at least 3.6 million hours due to significantly delayed trains in 2016/17, according to new research.

Delays of at least half an hour affected 7.2 million passenger journeys in Britain, consumer group Which? said.

It found Virgin Trains East Coast was the train company with the highest proportion of significant delays, with 3.7% of its services running between 30 minutes and two hours late. This was followed by Virgin Trains West Coast (2%) and CrossCountry (1.1%).

The best performance was by c2c at just 0.2%, according to the analysis of Office of Rail and Road (ORR) data from April 2016 to March 2017. The research was released ahead of the 3.4% average fare increase on Tuesday.

A separate poll of 8,200 UK adults by Which? found two in five (40%) commuters claim they were not told of their rights to compensation the last time they were entitled to a payout. This rose to over half (54%) of leisure passengers.

Which? managing director of public markets Alex Hayman said delays suffered by passengers are "even more infuriating" when they struggle to claim compensation.

He went on: "The progress to date is simply not good enough. If train companies can't simplify unnecessarily complex claims systems for delayed customers, then government must press for automatic compensation to be introduced across the industry so that people can get the money they are owed."

The ORR said it is expanding its monitoring of delay compensation (Yui Mok/PA)
The ORR said it is expanding its monitoring of delay compensation (Yui Mok/PA)

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators and Network Rail, said: "Rail companies are working together to ensure more people arrive on time but when things go wrong it should be easy to claim any compensation due.

"As part of the industry's long-term plan to improve, more operators are introducing automatic refunds and, in the last five years, the amount of compensation paid out has increased five-fold to £45 million a year."

The ORR said it is expanding its monitoring of delay compensation to better understand the volume of claims for each firm and how quickly they are processed.

Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: "This research shows that private rail companies are failing to provide reliable services and the Government is refusing to hold them to account. Our railway is fragmented and the claims system is unnecessarily complex, meaning passengers are missing out on the compensation they are owed.

"The Tories have had years to improve and simplify the compensation process but instead they are defending private train companies, rather than standing up for passengers. This is yet more evidence that privatised rail is broken, which is why Labour will take our railway back into public ownership to be run for passengers, not profit."

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