Consumer watchdog Which? has trumpeted imminent changes to the industry-wide National Rail Conditions of Travel (NRCoT), including one that acknowledges passengers' right to claim compensation for consequential loss.
The changes will mean that passengers left out-of-pocket because of a failure by a train company will not be put off from claiming by what Which? called ‘misleading terms and conditions’.
The NRCoT will be changed this Sunday to recognise the different routes to compensation, including the passengers’ right to claim using the Consumer Rights Act.
Consequential loss involves additional losses, such as taxi fares or hotel bookings, when someone’s train journey is disrupted because of a failure to provide the service with 'reasonable care and skill'.
Which? pointed out that although the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) came into effect for the rail industry on 1 October 2016, it has taken more than a year for the NRCoT to better reflect consumers’ rights.
Its managing director of public markets, Alex Hayman, said: ‘Train companies can now no longer hide behind misleading terms to avoid paying passengers.
‘They need to go further and proactively inform passengers about their compensation rights. If they fail to uphold these rights, they should be held to account by the Government and the regulator.’
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said: ‘Train companies are sorry whenever journeys are disrupted and we have been happy to work with the government and the regulator to make clearer our customers’ rights.
‘Nevertheless, it is important for our customers to understand that it is very unlikely they will be entitled to compensation for additional losses.
‘Compensation is becoming increasingly generous and easy to claim, which is why payments have increased fivefold in five years to £74m. As part of our plan for a changing and improving railway, train companies have committed to creating a new independent railway ombudsman to rule on complaints and build confidence in our services.’