Which? has accused train operating companies (TOCs) of making it ‘very difficult’ for passengers to get compensation by demanding up to 24 pieces of information.
The consumer group said it wants to see rail compensation simplified by the introduction of automatic compensation, with only one in three eligible passengers currently claiming for delayed or cancelled journeys.
It said it had looked at the online claims forms of 24 TOCs and found they required between 10 and 24 bits of information from passengers seeking compensation.
Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets, said: ‘It’s clear this fragmented and confusing compensation system leads to people losing out on a lot of money when they have already suffered enough from unacceptable levels of delays and cancellation.
‘The technology exists to deliver compensation automatically, but the industry continues to drag its heels, while benefiting from a system that deters passengers from claiming the money they are owed.’
Watchdog Transport Focus said it would be campaigning to ensure that more passengers claim compensation.
Chief executive Anthony Smith said: ‘There is no better way for passengers to ensure the rail industry listens to them.
'Transport Focus research found just 35% of passengers who were eligible claimed compensation for their journey. It’s now important that train operators actively encourage passengers to claim, making it quick, easy and automated as soon as possible.’
The Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail firms, said that passengers who create an account with their TOC or use a smartcard only need to complete personal details once, with far less information needed for subsequent claims.
Chief operating officer Jacqueline Starr said: ‘Train companies want to make it easy for passengers to claim compensation and asking questions like what train they caught and the price of their ticket ensures they receive what they are entitled to as quickly as possible while also guarding against fraudulent claims.'
She added that firms were doing more to encourage claims, ‘which has led to an 80% increase in compensation over the last two years to £81m a year’.
Which? is the source of this infographic
Which? named Greater Anglia, London Northwestern, ScotRail, Transport for Wales and West Midlands as ‘the worst offenders for their complicated and lengthy claims processes’, each demanding 24 pieces of information.
It pointed out that much of the information requested can be found clearly displayed on a photo of the paper ticket, which 23 out of the 24 TOCs require to be uploaded as proof of purchase anyway.