Refund policy for advanced rail tickets challenged over local lockdowns
- Credit: Archant
Calls have been made for rail operators to reconsider their refunds policy for advance tickets in light of the UK’s changing ‘lockdown landscape’.
It follows Daniel Brown, 41, from Aylsham, successfully getting a refund for two tickets from Norwich to Swansea, which cost £110.40.
Mr Brown had booked the tickets so his parents could visit friends in Wales from October 17 to 22, but their travel plans changed when parts of Wales started to go into lockdown.
Mr Brown said: “During summer, they were refunding, so if it’s to a restricted area now, the policy should be the same. I understand it’s difficult for them, but don’t get why they don’t have a blanket refund policy.
“There must be a lot of people looking at half-term trips they had booked and thinking ‘do I lose my money or do I make the trip against government advice?’
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“I understand they’ve got a business to run and have been hit hard all summer, but this goes to show that if you don’t make a fuss, you don’t get anything.”
After initially failing to get a refund directly from Greater Anglia, Mr Brown appealed to the Rail Ombudsman, who passed the case onto the industry watchdog, Transport Focus.
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They appealed to Greater Anglia, who then issued a full refund “as a gesture of goodwill”.
A Greater Anglia spokesperson said: “We will always do our best to help customers if they have a problem with their ticket or journey but we are bound by the policies set by the industry in relation to refunds.”
On March 23, the government announced that advance tickets bought before that date - shortly after the lockdown started - would be refunded.
But a Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said this would not be the case, going forward.
The spokesperson said: “Operators and other train ticket retailers are making it clear at the point of booking that an advance ticket is not refundable, although the date and time can be changed for a small fee, and they also offer refundable ticket options.
“Significant taxpayer funding continues to help maintain rail services which is supporting the country’s recovery from the pandemic and after careful consideration the government does not intend to allow refunds for non-refundable advance tickets.”
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