Some much-needed relief is on its way for the town’s frustrated train passengers, as the threshold for claiming compensation for delayed services will be lowered, according to the government.
Customers for both Southern and Southeastern services will be able to claim compensation if their service is delayed by 15 minutes, down from the current minimum of 30 minutes.
The policy will be introduced first for Southern Rail customers and will apply to every rail operator as a requirement for all future franchise renewal deals.
A Department for Transport spokeswoman could not give a start date for the scheme, but said it would apply to Southern services ‘soon’.
MP for Tonbridge & Malling Tom Tugendhat said he was ‘delighted’ with the development. “Of course, this announcement alone will not solve the problems we face on our rail lines,” he said. “I shall continue to campaign for a better connection on the Maidstone East line, a more reliable service on the Tonbridge line and for Southern and the RMT to finally sort out their problems.
“However, this is welcome news and shows that the government understands the problems which plague commuters like me, and many thousands of people in West Kent, on a regular basis.”
Southern also welcomed the news, accepting that ‘when passengers are delayed they deserve compensation’.
When asked why Southern had not introduced such a scheme voluntarily, it responded that ‘decisions around compensation are entirely in the hands of the Department for Transport’.
Under the Delay Repay 15 scheme, the compensation thresholds will be:
- 25 per cent of the single fare for delays of 15 to 29 minutes
- 50 per cent of the single fare for delays of 30 to 59 minutes
- 100 per cent of the single fare for delays of 60 minutes to 119 minutes
- 100 per cent of the total ticket cost (including if it is a return) for delays of two hours or more.