Rail season ticket refunds: passengers need clarity and reassurance
Many rail passengers have thousands of pounds tied up in season tickets they can no longer use because of the coronavirus. Independent watchdogs Transport Focus and London TravelWatch are calling for improvements in the way the existing process is communicated to passengers.
The watchdogs have called on the rail industry to make the following crystal clear to passengers:
- That claims will be backdated to a 17 March ‘hand in’ date (the day after Government said ‘stay at home’) and not the date they are received by the train company or retailer
- That passengers do not have to physically go to their station to hand in their ticket
- That the amount to be refunded will not be affected by how quickly claims are processed.
They are also calling for the £10 admin fee for processing season ticket refunds to be waived in England, as has already happened in Scotland and Wales.
Transport Focus and London TravelWatch Chief Executive Anthony Smith said:
“This is a very worrying time for people who are facing financial uncertainty. No one should feel they have to make a special trip to their station to hand in their season ticket for fear of getting less money back if they don’t.
“If passengers post their ticket they shouldn’t need to worry that they’ll lose out because their claim is sitting in a pile of letters waiting to be opened.
“We welcome the decision to backdate claims to 17 March – the government and rail industry have done the right thing by passengers. But train companies now need to step up and communicate this to passengers as clearly as possible.”
The watchdogs have reviewed how easy transport operators are making it to claim money back. Their summary reveals a lack of consistency across the country.