The Consumer Lawyer

Train strikes – your questions answered

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This week has seen the biggest rail strike for a generation, causing chaos for commuters. My inbox has been inundated with questions from consumers. Here’s a roundup of the most popular questions:

I can’t get to work due to the strikes; will my employer still pay me or authorise me to take the day off?

Unfortunately, the law does not provide you with any protection here.  Instead, it provides that your employer does not have to pay you if you can’t make it into work, unless the transport is arranged by your employer.

Depending on the company, your employer may allow you to take the day off as a lieu day, or as annual leave, but it is at their discretion. If you are able to work from home on the strike days, then most employers would probably deem that as acceptable. 

What if the rail strike means I miss my flight or I have to cancel my holiday?

Most travel insurance policies will cover a claim on some of the costs for rebooking if you miss a flight due to your train being cancelled. In many cases the cover will depend on whether you booked the flight while knowing there was going to be a train strike.

Will my ticket be refunded if the train is cancelled?

If your train has been cancelled, you will be entitled to a refund, no matter what ticket type you have.

Will I get a refund if my train is delayed?

For single-use rail tickets: 

If you paid for a ticket in advance for a specific date and time this week, you will be eligible for a full refund.

For everyone else, your refund will be linked to the length of the delay. Most train operators now operate the “Delay Repay” system (which means they pay out regardless of whether the delay was their fault). It does vary from operator to operator how much you can get back, but in most cases:

  • If it is delayed by 15-29 minutes you will get 25% back (12.5% off a return).
  • If it is delayed by 30-59 minutes you will get 50% back (25% off a return).
  • You will get 100% back for a 60–119-minute delay (50% off a return).
  • You will get 100% back off a single or return journey for a delay of 120+ minutes.

I’m a season ticket holder – what are my rights?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has given assurances to season ticket holders about compensation.

He said the Government “will ensure season ticket holders will be able to claim full compensation on strike days”.

He added that there are plans to bring in a “range of options”, including the use of agency workers to respond to future action.

Season ticket holders should be able to claim back 100% of the usual compensation should they decide not to travel on any of the strike days, even if their train hasn’t been cancelled.

How do I make a claim?

Firstly, you need to ascertain which train operator was responsible for the cancelled/delayed train. You then need to go to the train operator’s website and complete the claim form.


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