Passengers travelling on board trains operated by Transport for Wales (TfW) – the Welsh train operator which has taken over from the now defunct Arriva Trains Wales – can claim compensation if they have been delayed for 15 minutes or more.
However, TfW is making it “very difficult” for passengers to get compensation by demanding up to 24 pieces of information during the claim process, according to new research from consumer group Which?
Which? looked at the online claims forms of train companies across the UK, the research found customers seeking payouts for disruption face a “fragmented and confusing” system.
The consumer group found Greater Anglia, London Northwestern, ScotRail, Transport for Wales and West Midlands were the worst offenders for their complicated and lengthy claims processes.
“But even the best-performing companies in this list – Chiltern Railways and Heathrow Express – asked for 10 different pieces of information before passengers could submit a claim.” Which? states.
Which? found the five worst companies required 13 different pieces of information about the passenger’s ticket, such as whether it was a paper ticket, the cost, class, whether it was peak time, the dates of validity and how it was paid for.
Most of this information needed can be found clearly displayed on a photo of the paper ticket, which 23 out of the 24 train companies require to be uploaded as proof of purchase.
[First stop (of 5) on the TfW claims page- your details – 11 entries required here to garner personal information – pretty standard for web-based forms – we didn’t continue on the claims journey]
When Which? asked train companies why they require so much information, responses included deterring fraudulent claims, that it was needed for paper tickets without reservations, and the prominence of third-party retailers.
Alex Hayman, Which? 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.
Passengers want to see swift changes, so the government’s rail review must prove it is serious about putting them first by ensuring that automatic compensation is introduced across the network.”
Process under review
In a comment published by Wales Online, Colin Lea, customer experience director for Transport for Wales, said: “It is incredibly important that customers are able to claim compensation as easily and quickly as possible when they are delayed and we would like to thank all those customers who gave their feedback to Which?.
We are continually reviewing this process to make claiming straightforward for our customers and earlier this year introduced Delay Repay 15.
While we do require certain pieces of information, this allows us to resolve the majority of claims within 48 hours whilst filtering out potentially fraudulent claims.”
Transport for Wales introduced the 15-minute “delay repay” scheme in February, at the time Head of Customer Experience Barry Lloyd, described the change as “a huge benefit” for customers.
He said: “We’re committed to delivering a punctual service that our customers can be proud of.
“A 15 minute delay is a big deal to our customers so this will be a huge benefit to them and shows our recognition of that. We’ve already moved to the Delay Repay system which makes claiming easier for customers and extending that to 15 minutes puts customers rightly at the forefront of our thinking.
“By offering customers compensation for delays of 15 minutes, we are setting ourselves a challenging goal in terms of our performance as we aim to be the best train operator in Britain.”
— Wrexham.com (@wrexham) May 2, 2019
TfW has embarked on a radio, TV and print advertising campaign this month celebrating “the new jobs as well as the hard work being undertaken to improve rail services in Wales and the borders.”
The TV advert shows a “behind-the-scenes” view of the improvements TfW is currently undertaking, including investing £40m in upgrading its existing fleet and station deep-cleans.
The slick marketing campaign comes on the back of a reputation hammering over the winter period when more than a quarter of trains in Wales were taken out of service for urgent repairs.
Services between Wrexham and Bidston were cancelled for days due to a lack of trains.