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Law guide

Making a complaint

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Making a complaint

Do you have a complaint about a rail service, station or train? If so, find out here how to handle your complaint and what to do if you are not happy with the outcome after contacting the company concerned.

Registering your complaint

If you have a complaint about a rail service or journey, the first step is to contact the company who operates the line, train or station in question. Most complaints can be resolved by dealing directly with the company responsible.

Try to contact someone as soon as possible, either by:

  • speaking to a staff member on board the train, or
  • speaking to a member of staff at your departure or destination station.
You should always make sure that you complain to the correct train operating company. Passenger Focus - the independent national rail consumer watchdog- has a station finder tool on their website, which will tell you the company you should address your complaints to and gives each company's contact details. In Northern Ireland, contact details for complaints directly to the rail company can be found on the Translink website.

Taking the matter further

If you can't contact someone immediately, or you need to take your complaint further, it is best to put your complaint in writing, including if possible, proof of your journey such as a copy of your ticket. It is recommended that you keep a photocopy of all documentation you send, together with proof of posting.

For national rail operators, you are unlikely to obtain compensation amounting to the full cost of your ticket. However, if your train is delayed for more than an hour because of problems within a train company's control, then under the National Conditions of Carriage, you are entitled to at least 20% of the fare for the affected leg of your journey, and 10% for a return journey where only one direction was affected. This is the minimum amount you would be entitled to, and some operators may offer more than this at their discretion which will be recorded in their Passengers' Charter. London Underground provides compensation for the cost of the ticket for any delay over 15 minutes, provided that it is for a reason within their control. Claims need to be made within 28 days of the journey booked or completed.

If the delay was not within the control of the operator, then there is no requirement on their part to make an offer of compensation.

Please note that if you choose to take a taxi to your final destination rather than wait for a train, the operator is under no obligation to pay your fare, unless an arrangement has been made by an authorised member of staff for you to do this.

Season ticket holders are usually not entitled to compensation for individual delays. Compensation will be paid on the basis of the relevant rail company's performance targets for the period that the season ticket was held, and passengers will receive any due compensation upon renewal of their ticket.

Complaints or requests for vouchers or refunds should be made to the customer services department of the relevant operator. To receive a refund, you will be asked to provide proof of purchase. Therefore, you should enclose your ticket or any other proof of purchase (e.g. a credit card receipt) with any letter you send to the operator in question.

Getting support for your complaint

If you are still unhappy with the train operator's response, you can ask Passenger Focus or the General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland to follow it up. They will independently review your complaint and judge if it was handled appropriately. If they feel there is more the rail company should have done, they can make a representation to the rail company on your behalf.

To follow up a complaint with Passenger Focus or the General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland, it is advisable to put everything in writing and send them all previous correspondence and evidence.

Complaints involving injuries

If you have a complaint involving an injury received while on board a train or at a station, it is vital that you contact someone connected with the train or station as soon as possible, preferably immediately.