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Covid: Concerns over ‘out of pocket’ rail passengers

Rail passengers have mostly stayed at home

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Getty Images

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Rail passengers have mostly stayed at home

Some rail passengers have been waiting eight weeks for a season ticket refund and are not clear on when they will get the money, a lobby group has said.

Passengers were promised refunds at the start of the coronavirus lockdown to encourage them to stay at home.

Transport Focus said some were still waiting for refunds of several hundreds of pounds.

Rail companies said they had processed more season ticket refunds than in the whole of last year.

‘Out of pocket’

In late March, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government would “ensure no-one is unfairly out of pocket for doing the right thing” when he said refunds would be granted to those staying at home.

In a survey of 700 passengers last week, Transport Focus said a third of those asked had not yet received a refund, and six in 10 had not been kept informed over how long it would take.

They included one passenger who said he had no idea of the progress of his claim for a £3,000 refund, and another who said he had been waiting for eight weeks for £720 to be returned.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the watchdog, said: “While the majority of passengers have received a refund, six weeks on from applying others are still out of pocket and in the dark.”

In normal times, rail companies generally promise to pay within 28 days.

Transport Focus said many people would be hit hard financially by the coronavirus outbreak and so needed clarity over when any money would be back in their bank account.

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Mike Kemp

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Waterloo station is normally full of passengers

‘Exceptional times’

Jacqueline Starr, chief operating officer for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said the number of refund claims was “unprecedented”.

“In the last two months over 109,000 season tickets have been refunded, which is more than the entirety of last year,” she said.

“We thank people for their patience as refunds are processed during these exceptional times and we have doubled the number of staff processing refund claims.”

In total, train companies had given 2.8 million refunds on all types of rail tickets, worth more than £247m, in two months.

Customers can apply for 56 days, double the normal period, and season ticket refunds are being backdated.




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