June 20 2013 Latest news:
By Marijke Cox, Reporter
Sunday, July 8, 2012
Almost 35,000 successful claims under Delay Repay scheme in just one year
RAIL campaigners say their long-running accusations of poor service have been proved after almost 35,000 compensation claims were paid out for delayed trains in just one year.
Figures released to this newspaper show 34,856 successful claims have been made under the Delay Repay scheme since it was introduced by Southeastern in July, 2011, amounting to almost 100 claims every day.
Delay Repay was brought in following a campaign by long-suffering commuters.
It entitles all ticket holders to claim compensation immediately, paid in rail tickets, if any journey is delayed by 30 minutes or more.
Co-founder of Alliance of Kent Commuters, John Nicholson from Herne Bay, said the high number of claims validated what passengers had been saying for years about the train service.
And he claimed the actual figure of disrupted journeys was in actually likely to be higher.
“Not that many people are actually claiming; the forms are fiddly and the amount you get back isn’t always worth it,” he said.
Mr Nicholson told KoS that passengers held up by 30 minutes or more receive £3 in ticket vouchers, or £6 if delayed for more than an hour.
But he said that his season ticket costs around £4,100 a year, and it is not worth the hassle to make claims.
“I’ve only claimed once when I could have claimed half a dozen times or more. There are others I know who don’t claim either,” he said.
“One thing that just beggars belief is that Network Rail pay Southeastern if the delay is caused by them, but Southeastern doesn’t pass that on to the traveller.”
Mr Nicholson has drawn up a document with Canterbury City Council which will be submitted as part of the recently launched consultation into the rail franchise.
Southeastern’s franchise is due to run out on March 31, 2014, and the Department for Transport has invited communities to have a say on who should take over.
Thanet North MP Roger Gale, who has led calls for Southeastern to be stripped of its franchise, said Kent’s MPs had met this week to discuss the train service.
He said he was not surprised by the high number of claims but, like Mr Nicholson, believed it was actually a higher number.
“In some instances they skip stops to make up the time,” he said.
“Even if you have been waiting on the platform for half an hour, if you get there in the given timescale on another train you can’t claim.”
Mr Gale also stressed there were many trains that were 20-25 minutes late and that on an hour or hour-and-a-half journey, 30 minutes was a large percentage of the travel time.
But Southeastern said it was committed to providing the best possible service for its passengers.
A spokeswoman said: “Unfortunately, sometimes despite ours and Network Rail’s best efforts, systems do occasionally fail and delays do occur.
“We introduced the Delay Repay scheme last year to enable our passengers to claim compensation for these unavoidable delays straight away rather than wait until renewing a season ticket.
“We acknowledge that it can be frustrating to be delayed, that’s why we advocate the scheme and in turn the customer satisfaction on this part of the network is at record levels.”
Independent rail watchdog Passenger Focus said passengers wanted a smoother claims process.
Manager Guy Dangerfield said: “Clearly, it is better for passengers if trains run on time and they have no need to claim compensation.
“But passengers tell us that for the times when delays do happen they want a straightforward, hassle-free means of obtaining compensation.
“A system based on ‘delay repay’, but with a smoother, less paper-based claims process is what passengers tell us they want, together with a means to compensate commuters for regular delays of less than 30 minutes.”
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