Skip to main content

Rail Passenger Compensation

Volume 634: debated on Thursday 18 January 2018

My hon. Friend will be pleased to hear that, principally because of greater awareness and greater ease in accessing compensation, passengers in the Greater Anglia region have received twice as much compensation in 2016-17 as they did in 2015-16.

I apologise for arriving late—due to a train delay this morning. We in the east of England are looking forward to our sparkling new trains arriving next year, but in the meantime we often face delays, and when people face delays they should be compensated. Will the Minister look at issues such as when trains are overcrowded and people have to get the next one, or when they are cancelled, and see if we can find some technical improvements?

I am glad my hon. Friend welcomes the new trains. Passengers can look forward to a complete fleet replacement, with over 1,000 new carriages by the end of 2020. This will mean passengers will be travelling on longer and, crucially, more regular trains.

The problems the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford) describes as facing her constituents are exactly the same as those my constituents have been experiencing in recent months on Northern Rail. Pleas for a compensation system that recognises that delays might be short but repeated and that trains are often overcrowded so that they cannot even get on them are falling on deaf ears. Will the Minister undertake to take this up directly with Northern Rail since my own meetings with it have produced absolutely no progress on this matter?

That is why it is so important that trains are being extended and replaced. The crucial thing is that, where there are delays, passengers are more aware of, and have easier access to, compensation schemes, and overall across the system over £73 million was paid in compensation in 2016-17, an increase of over 64% over the previous year.

The compensation scheme works on the basis that the delays are an exception rather than the norm. Will the Minister sit down with me, or perhaps follow me on Twitter so that he can see the messages I have had every day since work was resumed after the holidays on south-east trains, with delays and disruption every day on every line?

I share my hon. Friend’s concerns and sympathise greatly with the experience of his constituents and other constituents in that area. The Southeastern service is one of the most congested in the country, and it has been vulnerable to the impact of infrastructure failures. We are working closely to ensure closer working between the operator and Network Rail to secure a reduction of such problems in the future.

Compensation arrangements have to work, so will the Minister outline whether he believes that the compensation system can be streamlined and, importantly, be accessible?

Passengers are accessing compensation schemes far more easily than ever before. That is reflected in the greater take-up of compensation payments, which is growing at a far faster rate than any delays in services. We continue to work with operators to ensure that this becomes easier for passengers to access and we will be looking carefully at that in the next franchise renewals process.