Rail firm denies compensation for season pass holders who avoided heatwave trips

A train company is refusing to pay compensation to season ticket holders who took its advice not to travel during scorching temperatures.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which operates trains in south-east England, said passengers with an annual pass are only entitled to a payout if they attempted a journey on Thursday and were delayed.

This is despite its four train brands – Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express – all urging passengers to “avoid travelling wherever possible”.

A spokesman for GTR, which has repeatedly faced calls to be stripped of its franchise over a series of failures in recent years, told PA: “A season ticket holder who decided not to travel would not be entitled to any refund or compensation.

“They would have had to make a journey and been delayed.”

Southeastern and GTR have the same parent company, Govia, but the former was one of several operators offering compensation to season ticket holders who did not travel on Thursday.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “All passengers told not to travel due to extreme weather should be entitled to claim compensation.

“Train operators should take the heat out of the situation and do the right thing by reimbursing passengers who have acted on their advice and made alternative plans.

“When things go wrong train operators must ensure every eligible passenger knows about compensation and how to claim.

“To make their voice heard passengers must claim every time and make delay pay.”

Rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road said it is examining the National Rail Conditions of Travel to consider whether firms such as GTR should offer compensation to season ticket holders when they advise passengers not to travel.

Services were crippled in large parts of England on Thursday as temperatures exceeding 38C damaged overhead wires and led to speed restrictions due to fears of tracks buckling.

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