Passengers call for money back after rail chaos

RAIL passengers on the Hastings to London line should receive payments running into hundreds of pounds following a winter of cancellations and delays, a pressure group has claimed.

Travellers have suffered weeks of severe disruption following landslips along the line between Battle and Wadhurst.

Now train operator Southeastern is urged to make a one-off payment in recognition of the poor service.

The Tunbridge Wells and District Rail Travellers’ Association (TWDRTA) has called for regular rail users to receive a goodwill gesture of between 10-15 per cent of the cost of their annual season tickets.

For those travelling from the stations represented by the group, from Battle to High Brooms, the cost of an annual season ticket averages more than £4000.

The group wants pro-rata payments for those with shorter term tickets.

TWDRTA chair Bob Baker said: “Limited compensation is available to rail users for delays and cancellations, although the fact that replacement bus services can add more than 40 minutes to the journey from Battle to London is not included in this.

“What we are calling for is something different. We want Southeastern to acknowledge that commuters are customers, but with limited options for alternative travel.

“It would be a gesture to recognise how bad the service has been and to say ‘sorry’, not just to compensate.

“We understand that many factors have contributed to the very poor service, a number of which have been outside of Southeastern’s control.

“However, Southeastern, as a customer of Network Rail, will be reimbursed by the track owner so why shouldn’t Southeastern do the same for its customers for the sake of good relations?”

A spokesman for Southeastern said: “We’ve been actively encouraging our passengers to claim through the delay repay scheme for any journey that is delayed by 30 minutes or more. Full details are on our website and forms are available at our stations.

“For delays of less than 30 minutes, passengers are advised to contact our customer service team and all claims are considered on a case-by-case basis.

“If we can’t run our trains due to infrastructure problems such as signal or supply failure and land slips blocking the line, under schedule 8 of our franchise agreement, Network Rail does compensate us. Around 80 per cent of this money goes straight back to Government and a percentage of the rest is already returned to customers under the delay repay scheme.”