Commuters don’t know when they’re entitled to a refund
TRAIN companies are failing to inform passengers of their rights, consumer watchdog Which? charges today — and unions and campaigners say the privatised rail system is to blame.
Which? has written to train bosses saying the National Rail Conditions of Travel unlawfully limits companies’ liability for “consequential losses” sustained by passengers such as additional costs incurred when a late-running service leads to missed connections.
“Passengers have a right to claim” for such losses under the Consumer Rights Act, the watchdog says, and “train companies are required to make that clear and not suggest otherwise.”
Rail union TSSA leader Manuel Cortes praised Which? for “taking up the cause of ripped-off passengers” but said the only way to prevent users being “bled dry” was to bring railways back into public ownership.
“Privatisation gave train-operating companies a licence not just to print money but to rob passengers blind,” he told the Star.
“Enabling passengers to receive rightful compensation is not rocket science. All the train staff would have to do is inform passengers of their rights via the intercom system and hand out claim forms on board or via an app.
“They don’t because the companies are no longer geared towards the passengers but rigged in favour of the privateers.
“It’s good that the Consumer Rights Act offers passengers protection, but of course the train companies are violating it.”
Campaign for Public Ownership director Neil Clark agreed, saying: “Opaque and complex pricing systems and passengers being kept in the dark over their rights isn’t an anomaly but part of the privatised package.”
A model aimed at maximising train company profits rather than putting passengers first gives them no interest in keeping people informed, he argued.
“The solution is public ownership and a return to distance-based pricing, which is still used in some European countries.
“It was in 1968 that British Rail took the first steps towards market pricing and the result has been disastrous.
“A renationalised railway would allow a much simpler system for passengers to navigate and the single most important step would be to bring back distance-based pricing and lay on more trains at busy times, rather than ramp up ticket fares.”