Virgin Trains has become the first rail operator to offer automatic refunds on delayed services, although tough restrictions apply.
The new system, which was launched yesterday, calculates the money due to a customer and automatically pays the compensation directly onto the card they used for purchase within three days.
The compensation is calculated under the existing Delay Repay scheme. If you are delayed by;
- 30 – 59 minutes - Virgin will pay you compensation to the value of 50% of the cost of your single ticket or 50% of the cost of the relevant portion* of your return ticket.
- 60 – 119 minutes - Virgin will pay you compensation to the value of 100% of the cost of your single ticket or 100% of the cost of the relevant portion* of your return ticket.
- 120 minutes or longer - Virgin will pay you compensation to the value of 100% of the cost of your single ticket or 100% of the cost of your return ticket (i.e. both portions not just one way).
However the Automatic Delay Repay (ADR) is only available to Virgin Trains customers travelling on the West Coast Mainline who purchased advance tickets for a specific train through www.virgintrains.com or the mobile app.
It is not available through Virgin Trains East Coast website or app, although the operator is ‘looking at whether’ to introduce on Virgin Trains East Coast services as well.
It is also not available on journeys with multiple connections across different train operators although delays for journeys not booked through the website/app, or for non-advance tickets, can still be claimed in the normal way.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: ‘Today’s announcement is fantastic news for people travelling along the West Coast Mainline.
'Virgin Trains are making the most of modern technology to improve the service customers get. Our plan is to make sure passengers across the country benefit from schemes like this and we are encouraging other operators to roll out similar schemes nationwide.’
Phil Whittingham, managing director of Virgin Trains on the West Coast added: ‘This will be available to customers who book through our website or app, so the more people who book with us, the more we can help in this way. This is just one of a range of innovations we have planned for the coming year, all of which are aimed squarely at the most important person – the customer.’
Under another new scheme due to be trialled from 31 December by train operator, C2C, which runs services between London and Essex, passengers could be compensated immediately as they swipe their ‘oyster style’ smartcard at the ticket barrier if their train is just two minutes late.
Passengers would then receive compensation if the train is two minutes late, then an additional 3p per extra minute of delay – up to 29 minutes. If a train is between 30 and 60 minutes late passengers would receive 50% of the value of their ticket and over an hour and they will get a full refund.