More travel chaos with rail strikes disrupting travel for millions of Britons
In what is being billed as the biggest national rail strike for 30 years, Network Rail and train operating staff walked out on Tuesday, beginning what is expected to be a weeklong, at least, series of strikes.
Travellers around much of Britain were without passenger train services on the strike days so far, with the disruption likely to spill over into non-strike days with cancellations and delays affecting journeys the length and breadth of the country.
Last-ditch talks failed to resolve what has become an increasingly bitter dispute over pay, pensions, jobs and working conditions.
An impasse in negotiations
With both sides unwilling to back down and blaming each other, departure boards have been left empty, disrupting the journeys of millions of commuters across England, Scotland, and Wales.
The RMT has accused the Government of actively preventing a settlement to the dispute and has vowed that industrial action will run “as long as it needs to”. Whilst the Government has condemned the unions for not being willing to reach a “sensible compromise.”
So, what are the consumer rights for rail travellers impacted by the strike action?
In a somewhat vague statement, according to Network Rail, if a service had been cancelled, delayed, or rescheduled then passengers may be entitled to a fee-free change or refund from the original retailer of the ticket.
To make things a little clearer, according to the National Rail Conditions of Travel, consumers have the following rights to a refund if a train is disrupted and they choose not to travel:
- Return an unused ticket to the original retailer or train company from whom it was purchased, for a full refund with no administration fee, if they decide not to travel because the train they intended to use is:
– rescheduled from that in Published Timetable of the Day after purchasing a Ticket or Tickets, or
– a reservation will not be honoured
In terms of compensation for delays and/or cancellations:
- If a consumer is delayed in reaching a destination as a result of a delay or cancellation of a train service, they may be entitled to claim compensation from the train company that is responsible for the delay in completing the journey.
- Consumers are entitled to compensation if the delay was 60 minutes or longer, regardless of fault. Compensation is based on the delay in arrival time at the destination station, as compared to the arrival time stated in the Published Timetable of the Day.
- Although the amount of compensation offered varies by train company, as a minimum consumers should expect 50% of the price paid for single and return tickets.
If you have been affected by the strikes you should seek out your train companies passenger charter for more information on your rights. You can also refer to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Rail Passengers’ Rights and Obligations Regulation.