Compensation for rail delays to rise after pressure on franchise

    Tunbridge Wells Station

    Southeatern has caved into pressure from commuters and agreed to implement a fairer compensation scheme for rail passengers suffering from delays.

    Until now, the franchise operated a Delay Repay scheme which was one of the least generous in the country; it divided the cost of a season ticket by the equivalent of 546 single journeys a year.

    That would mean the passenger travelling every working day, all Bank Holidays, some weekends, and taking no holiday whatsoever.

    However, at a heated meeting between commuters and Southeastern Managing Director David Statham on March 16 – and hosted by MP Greg Clark at the Town Hall – the train operator came under fire for its low level of compensation.

    Following the outcry, the franchise has since admitted it was ‘out of step’ with passengers and will introduce a fairer compensation scheme.

    Mr Statham told the MP: “Your constituents are correct; although hard-wired into our franchise agreement, our method of calculation was out of step with some other operators.”

    He says he is ‘pleased’ to say the calculation has now been revised to assume that 464 journeys a year are made on an annual season ticket.

    This means that compensation for delayed trains will increase by around 18 per cent. For example, a one-hour delay on a single journey on a Tunbridge Wells to London season ticket will attract compensation of £9.50 rather than £8.15.

    Mr Clark said the change ‘shows the value’ of the public pressure exerted through the meeting, adding: “Delayed trains are unacceptable but it adds insult to injury if the compensation is less than the cost of the journey.

    “It doesn’t make up for the numerous other problems with Southeastern, but it is a step in the right direction.”

    The meeting triggered the formation of a Rail Action Group, chaired by Mr Clark, to try to hold Southeastern and Network Rail to account. It will meet for the first time this Saturday (July 23).