Virgin Trains has announced that customers entitled to refunds for delayed journeys will now be offered a ‘cash payment’ - in the form of a cheque.
The move has won praise from consumer group Which?, who described the rail operator as ‘setting the pace’ on the issue.
Virgin Trains said all customers across its east and west coast routes who apply for compensation after experiencing delays of at least 30 minutes ‘will be offered a cash payment (in the form of a cheque) as the default option’ - customers can still opt for rail vouchers if they prefer.
The company said it was the first train operator to make automatic bank payments eligible to delayed customers who use the west coast route and buy their tickets on its website. It is working on ways to pay compensation directly into the bank accounts of more passengers.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘Passengers are rightly frustrated by the significant barriers that exist when claiming compensation for train delays and cancellations, so it is good to see Virgin Trains setting the pace by offering cash as the default option for compensation. We would urge all train operating companies to act quickly to implement this, and further changes, to improve the process for their customers.’
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: 'We’re working tirelessly as an industry to cut delays but when things do go wrong for our passengers, we want to put them right. Many train companies are already offering their customers cash as compensation for delays, whether in the form of a cheque or voucher to be cashed at a ticket office.
'Operators are continuing to look at other ways to make it even simpler and quicker for people to get their delay compensation in cash.'
Last month the Office of Road and Rail recommended a package of measures to make it easier for rail passengers to claim compensation.