Thousands complain over lockdown rail refunds

Thousands of train passengers complained about ticketing and refunds following the coronavirus outbreak, new figures show.

Thousands of train passengers complained about ticketing and refunds following the coronavirus outbreak, new figures show.

Analysis of industry data by the PA news agency shows around 10,000 complaints relating to coronavirus were dealt with between April and June.

This was when many passengers claimed pay outs for tickets they could no longer use due to lockdown travel restrictions, including annual passes worth thousands of pounds.

Dissatisfaction with ticketing and refunds was the most common form of complaint closed during the three-month period, making up a quarter of all cases.

The news comes after the announcement that additional charges for rearranging advance railway journeys disrupted by COVID-19 regulations will be scrapped by the government.

The analysis is based on Office of Rail and Road data for Britain’s railways.

Passengers face ‘uncertainty’ over refunds

Concerns raised over refunds during the coronavirus pandemic include requests to pay £10 admin fees, the need to physically go to stations to hand in tickets, and whether claims would be backdated to when the stay at home advice was issued on March 17.

David Sidebottom, director of watchdog Transport Focus, said passengers faced “a lot of uncertainty” with “large sums of money” at stake.

He went on: “We pressed operators to ensure passengers were kept in the loop on the refund process, and crucially, that season ticket claims were backdated to when the stay at home message was delivered.

“The Government’s decision last week to waive the admin fee on changes to Advance tickets for journeys affected by new local lockdown restrictions was good news for passengers and something we had called for.”

Industry body the Rail Delivery Group said 2.89 million train tickets were refunded between March 23 and June 23, up from 1.99 million during the same period last year.

The organisation’s chief operating officer Jacqueline Starr commented: “Train operators work hard to give passengers a great service, even in challenging circumstances, and in the first three months of the pandemic we paid backdated season ticket refunds, doubled the time that people had to claim, and refunded £334 million worth of train tickets.

“We want people to travel with confidence during this time, which we are supporting through remote ticket refunds and fee-free changes to Advance tickets for people whose plans have been affected by Covid restrictions.”
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