Today’s Star columnist: James Walker

James Walker
James Walker
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Most days of the week, I need to travel by train.

In the past few weeks, I seem to have had more delays than usual. In fact, rather than get a train timetabled to arrive just before any appointments I make, I have had to start taking earlier trains – just to ensure that I can make it on time.

The railways publish a regular public performance measure (PPM), and for September to October 90.1 per cent of trains arrived at their destination on time.

However, for a train to be late, it needs to arrive at its destination five minutes later than scheduled for commuter trains, and 10 minutes late for long-distance routes.

These delays are getting worse, too: for the same pe-riod in 2013, the rail opera-tors’ performance level was 92.2 per cent. That means there were over 2.45 million more train passengers late by more than five minutes to their destinations this October than last October.

Industry statistics reveal that train operating companies cause 39 per cent of delays. Of these, just over 70 per cent were self-inflicted, while just under 30 per cent were delays caused by another train operating company.

It is probably fair to say First Hull Trains and South-ern customers are the un-happiest in the country! We estimate First Hull Trains alone has delayed over 8,100 passengers in one month.

National conditions of carriage is the agreement for how the railways operate and how you are entitled to compensation if something goes wrong. If your train is delayed for over an hour, you are entitled to a 20 per cent refund on a single ticket or 10 per cent on a return ticket. If you choose not to travel because the train is delayed or cancelled, then you can apply for a complete refund from the train station or submit your tickets back to the train company.

Remember if possible to have some proof of when the train was delayed.

The bad news is that your compensation will be in the form of National Rail vouchers, so you will have to use the trains again! You can use these vouchers with any train company, but they cannot be used for online train ticket purchases. In addition, some companies will change these vouchers for a cheque refund, although they are not obliged to do so.