James calls for better rail delay compensation

James Brokenshire has called for the Department for Transport to examine options for Southeastern commuters to receive compensation in the same way as Tube passengers when services are delayed.

Under the current ‘Delay-Repay’ scheme, Southeastern customers have to be delayed by 30 minutes or more before being able to claim compensation. Customers on TfL services only have to be delayed by 15 minutes to make a claim. In a letter to James, the Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond, has said that the Government will give the idea careful consideration.

James has asked the Department for Transport to consider new arrangements for Southeastern, as a means of providing increased focus on punctuality and performance. This would mirror compensation arrangements for commuters travelling similar distances into Central London as those in Bexley using Transport for London services, such as the Metropolitan Line and would better reflect the impact of delays of 15 minutes on commuter services.

Figures from the Office for the Rail Regulator indicate that over three quarters of people do not know how to claim compensation for delayed rail journeys.

Commenting James said: “There is a lot to be done in order to improve rail services on Southeastern and I will continue to maintain pressure on the company and on Network Rail to make necessary changes. However, customers need to have access to improved redress when disruption does occur.”

“Lowering the compensation threshold to 15 minutes would help achieve this, as well as helping to incentivise Southeastern to reduce delays for its passengers.”

In his letter, Stephen Hammond said “I feel that you raise some very important points about the different threshold used on local services in the London area and have therefore asked my officials to explore the possibility that the Southeastern franchise could adopt the lower, 15 minute threshold for delay compensation used by Transport for London. In recognition of the proposal, I have asked my officials looking at the Southeastern Direct Award to consider the feasibility and suitability of this for the new contract from October.”

Consideration would take into account the overall equity of the arrangements, the impact of all customers on the franchise and value for money.