15-minute Delay Compensation … delayed again!

2016-09-14-15-43-12We were excited to hear that Southeastern could be planning to make changes to the Delay Repay scheme from 1 October – perhaps, at last, Delay-Repay compensation that starts after 15 minutes delay rather than 30 minutes?

Apparently not. Southeastern have told us that the changes from 1 October relate to how the existing Delay Repay scheme can be paid. Southeastern will be giving more details shortly, but the current choice of payment methods will be expanded to:

  • PayPal
  • Bank account transfer
  • Cashable voucher
  • Cheque
  • Credit/debit card refund
  • e-vouchers (which can be banked and offset against the cost of future tickets)

That’s good progress, and we welcome it. Direct payment into bank accounts and refund to credit cards also help solve the issue with existing vouchers of tight time limits and bureaucracy when converting them into cash at ticket offices.

We also welcome the change, made quietly at the beginning of June, to the basis of the season ticket calculation. Compensation is now based on the assumption that annual season ticket holders make 464 single journeys a year, rather than 546 previously. We’d earlier pointed out how poor Southeastern’s formula was compared to other train companies, and the new formula is as good or better than all but one other companies – although still short of what Chiltern Railway customers get.

But what has happened to compensation for 15 minute delays? After all, the 2015 Autumn Spending Review promised that rail passengers would soon have access to compensation when trains are more than 15 minutes late. That would make a big difference for Sevenoaks area travellers: the average journey time to London Bridge is 23-27 minutes, so a train needs take over double that for any compensation to be paid under the current scheme.

Southeastern tell us that:

“Respective Rail Ministers have made statements about 15 minute qualifying periods and/or discounts for poor service but we and other operators have yet to be formally notified.”

So while the then Rail Minister Claire Perry said in June that the Government:

“are committed to improving compensation arrangements for passengers. . . We expect to make an announcement on this in the next few months.”

and the new Rail Minister Paul Maynard said on Monday:

“The Secretary of State and I are continuing to consider more generous compensation for passengers on this route, and we hope to make a timely announcement.”

there’s no sign that more generous compensation will be coming to passengers any time soon.

Perhaps compensation should also be payable to rail customers if the Department for Transport is delayed delivering its policies?


15-minute Delay Compensation … delayed again! — 5 Comments

  1. I have always muted the idea that compensation should be based on the percentage of journey delayed rather than the actual time. That would mean a fair calculation for all rail users irrespective of the length of their journey.For example if the 10 hours train from aberdeen is delayed by 5% of the journey from Aberdeen to London then they should get 5% of their fare back and the same would apply to shorter journeys such as Sev-CHX. Whilst it may be challenging to implement this for single journey passengers, for season ticket holder, where the train company already own the details, this could even be automated.

  2. @james In principle we would agree – although it could mean that two people suffering the same delay on the same train could get different amounts. For instance a delay of 15 minutes between Sevenoaks and London Bridge would be a 57% delay if one was travelling to London Bridge but only 42% delay if one was going on to Charing Cross.

    An alternative is per-minute delay as c2c have implemented. In their scheme for season ticket holders there is 3p for each minute delay between 3 and 29 minutes, and then Southeastern-like rules for 30 minutes or more delay. What’s more, with smart card season tickets the compensation is automatic.

    Although Southeastern are introducing smart card season tickets from this December, there seem to be no plans to introduce automatic compensation even though, as c2c have shown, it is technically feasible with a smartcard system.

  3. Thanks. Out of interest are southeastern inventing their own smart cards, which like their parking app will be developed by an 8 year old working a zx spectrum or are they actually doinn something sensible like using oyster this negating the need for those commuters who don’t have a travel card season ticket carry both that and a oyster. I imagine that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

  4. @james We have been doing some investigation about this, and subject to getting some final details we will be reporting shortly. But basically the Southeastern smart card will be their own product. It will be just for season tickets and won’t have a Pay As You Go feature like Oyster or automatic delay-repay like the c2c smartcard. Curiously it will not have the features of the Southern “The Key” smartcard either.

  5. Thank god SE don’t have anything to do with the motor industry. We would all be driving around on re-invented square wheels!

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