Rail delay payouts hit record highs after rise in trains cancelled

Payouts to passengers for rail delays hit record highs last month among some of the worst-performing rail operators, figures suggest.

Between November last year and last month, successful delay-repay claims more than doubled at Avanti West Coast, rising from 45,900 to 104,700, according to data from watchdog the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

Three months ago, Avanti, which had been beset by poor performance, was handed a long-term contract renewal of up to nine years.

The company had been ordered to develop a recovery plan aimed at addressing cancellations, which were largely attributed to drivers refusing to work paid overtime shifts.

The number of delay-repay claims paid out by Great Western Railways (GWR) also more than doubled in that period, from 63,400 to 141,100.

And at East Midlands Railway claims increased from 23,700 to 26,300 year on year, a rise of 11 per cent.

Rail operators say most delays are not their fault, but are caused by infrastructure problems on the network.

But last month all three private operators recorded their highest number of November delay-repay payouts – above pre-pandemic levels.

Earlier this year, Avanti West Coast became the worst operator for train punctuality in a list that also included TransPennine Express, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railways and Great Western Railway.

Between April and June, only 46.1 per cent of Avanti trains ran on time. By September, the company had improved and became only the second-worst performing operator.

Avanti West Coast runs trains on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Glasgow Central, with branches to Birmingham, North Wales, Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh.

Train reliability across the UK fell to a record low last year. On-the-day service cancellations rose to their highest level since records began in 2014, it was revealed, partly because of strikes.

Figures from the regulator covering the final three months of last year showed that one train in 30 was cancelled on the day.

Labour, which obtained the delay-repay figures, pledged to take rail franchises back into public ownership as they expire.

A spokesperson for Avanti West Coast said: “We would like to apologise to customers who have experienced delays on our services. As the ORR’s figures show, the delay-repay scheme the industry has in place is working and making it easier than ever for customers to receive compensation when their train is delayed.”

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