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Lichfield MP demands overhaul of train compensation scheme for passengers plagued by “scandal of persistent delays”

Lichfield’s MP has called for a complete overhaul of compensation schemes for train passengers hit by delays.

Michael Fabricant

Michael Fabricant

Michael Fabricant said too many people were being “plagued” by regular delays on their commute.

The Conservative MP is now calling for the Department for Transport to look again at the way passengers are compensated.

“Railway season ticket holders are being ripped off on routes where there are constant delays and it’s time for action,” he said.

“Delays are sometimes inevitable. When customers are delayed for 30 minutes or longer, they are entitled to compensation. But this is not the case for persistent, but shorter delays which cumulatively are just as bad.

“I have now taken this up with ministers at the Department for Transport. Although punctuality has improved, I still receive complaints of delays on the cross city line and West Coast Main Line.

“The issue of persistent train delays disproportionately affects daily commuters, many of whom have to fork out thousands of pounds a year for season tickets. So a standard class annual season ticket from Lichfield to London Euston, for example, costs £10,312 and a first class season ticket over £17,000.

“A reliable service is not a big ask.”

Paul Maynard, Minister for Rail, provided a written answer to Mr Fabricant stating that changes had been made to provide compensation for trains delayed by more than 15 minutes had begun in some areas.

“Delay Repay 15 (DR15) has been introduced on Govia Thameslink Railway services and is being rolled out more widely across DfT-franchised train operating companies, starting with South Western, West Midlands and South Eastern.

“DR15 will be contracted as a requirement for new DfT franchises when contracts come up for renewal. We have also asked a number of train operating companies for proposals to implement DR15 before their contract expires, and will introduce DR15 if the proposals are affordable and represent value for money for taxpayers.”

But Mr Fabricant said that it was not right that during a working year a commuter could lose 230 hours of their time to delays and still not receive a single penny in compensation – and branded it “the scandal of persistent delays”.

“While arriving at your destination five minutes late may not seem particularly scandalous, these delays can soon add up,” Mr Fabricant said.

“Of course, some delays are a natural part of business. It would unreasonable to expect rail operators to have to pay for every late minute.

“But there needs to be a mechanism put in place across all rail companies – not just a selected few – to compensate these commuters. It seems absurd that a one-off, half-hour delay merits compensation when persistent but smaller delays do not. If your train is supposed to arrive at half past the hour but always gets there at twenty to, you’re being overcharged.”

Mr Fabricant added that shorter but more regular delays were going under the radar and were not being focused on by the industry as a whole.

He said: “Delays of a couple of minutes are often not preventable. However, regular delays of between 10 and 30 minutes point to deeper structural problems, either with the rail operator or Network Rail.

“It would perhaps make more sense if delay repayments were linked to a proportion of the journey time delayed? After all, a half hour delay on a two hour train journey is more understandable than a 15 minute delay on a 20 minute journey.

“At present, there is little motivation for rail operators to avoid smaller delays, not just because of the current compensation scheme, but also because of a lack of competition on many routes. This is why renationalising the railways, as Labour have pledged to do, would only exacerbate the problem.

“It’s unlikely that we’ll ever be able to make the trains run on time all of the time. However, a smarter, more proportionate rail compensation scheme would at least help out long-suffering commuters and force the purveyors of persistent delays to shape up.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

4 Comments

  1. Burntwood Bloke

    30th November, 2017 at 11:50 am

    It’s shocking just how much campaigning Mr Fabricant does for those using the Lichfield TV to London Euston route daily. Those hugely over-priced Lichfield homes are paid for by many residents getting London weighting and taking that train daily. I remember him complaining to Virgin because they altered the timetable slightly and he ended up getting it reversed.

    However, if you mention anything about the old portacabins that laughably represent NHS care in Burntwood, he washes his hands of it and says it’s an “NHS issue”.

  2. Steve Norman

    5th December, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Burntwood Bloke gets it. Mr Fabricant must hate having to catch the train from Trent Valley as constituents can lobby him every time. When is he holding an advice surgery in Burntwood so he can be lobbied by Burntwood patients on their NHS services? We know he runs away from any invitation to a public meeting organised by Burntwood Action Group on the threat to the Green Belt. I suggested it at their last public meeting because in my naivety I thought that’s what Members of Parliament where supposed to do – in my experience.

  3. Darryl Godden

    5th December, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Brexit bill.

    They’ve been sitting late and he’s not used to it.

  4. John Griffin

    6th December, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    He doesn’t have to do anything Brexit related, as he is an ardent Leaver and he has others like the hapless Davis to pretend it’s not a disaster (and I’m largely critical of the EU!).