With passengers losing almost four million hours to significantly delayed train journeys in 2018, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper is backing a call for passengers to receive fully automatic compensation for delays and cancellations.   

Along with Which?, MP Rosie is demanding that the government’s rail review ensures that simpler and easier compensation processes are introduced across the network as soon as possible.  

After a record year for disruption sent trust in the rail industry to new lows, the case for making compensation automatic has never been clearer. Currently passengers claim for only a third (34%) of journeys where money is owed for delays and cancellations.  

Which?’s findings come as the rail industry rolls out its latest summer timetable which aims to introduce 1,000 extra services per week across the country – one year on from last year’s disastrous timetable chaos where disruption left the personal and professional lives of thousands of passengers in tatters.   

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“My West Lancashire constituents are rightly fed up with the unreliable service that they have received over the past year on the railways. Unprecedented levels of delays and cancellations have left them struggling to get to work, school or home on time. That’s why I’m backing Which?’s calls to introduce automatic compensation across the network.  

“I have been deluged with reports from residents about poor service, no service and no refunds for much of 2018.     

“The Williams Review is a chance to overhaul the complex compensation system for passengers – so that when things do go wrong, at least they get the money they are owed.”  

The staggering level of delays – 3,928,560 hours in total – relates to 8.1 million passenger journeys and meant around 80 trains per day were significantly delayed.    

A lamentable year for delays was matched by the results for cancellations, which averaged 660 per day (241,934 in total) in 2018 – also the highest number since comparable records began in 2011.  

The damning findings demonstrate why, if the rail system is to start working for passengers, urgent action is needed to improve punctuality, reliability and compensation when things go wrong.    

Neena Bhati, Which? Head of Campaigns, said:  
“Passengers have faced a torrid time on the trains since the beginning of last year where the rail industry has fundamentally failed on punctuality and reliability. People then face a messy and complex compensation system which puts them off claiming when things go wrong.  

“A vital way the government’s rail review and industry can start to restore faith is by introducing automatic compensation for delays and cancellations so that passengers don’t have to fight to get the money they are owed.”     


  • The total delayed hours of 3.93 million statistic is calculated assuming the lower bound for significant delays holds (29 mins) and then multiplying this by total passenger journeys in 2018 (2018 Q1 – 2018 Q4). This is an estimation, because although some trains obviously were delayed by more than 29 mins at the terminus, not all passengers are affected equally on the same delayed journey. Trains reported as cancelled are excluded from this statistic. 
  • A significant delay is one that is between 29 and 119 minutes.  
  • Significant delays and cancellations by train operating company (TOC) – Which? analysis of Office of Rail and Road (ORR) punctuality data. Only TOCs who have franchises with the Department for Transport were included: c2c, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Trains, Govia Thameslink Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, London North Eastern Railway (previously Virgin East Coast), Northern, South Western Railway, SoutheasternTranspennine Express, Virgin Trains West Coast and West Midlands Trains.  
  • Virgin East Coast changed operator in June last year and is now owned by DfT under the name London North Eastern Railway (LNER).  
  • Transport for Wales, Caledonian Sleeper, ScotRail, Merseyrail, London Overground, TfL Rail and Open Access providers were excluded from the analysis. 
  • The data analysed covers the period between 1 January 2018 – 31 December 2018.  
  • Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) comprises of Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express but the ORR data does not split down to this level. In 2018, GTR accounted for 22% of planned train services but almost a third of cancellations.  
  • In October 2018, 10,000 members of the UK general public completed a Which? online survey about their experiences of travelling with UK train operators. Respondents were able to comment on more than one train operating company so Which? was able to report on 3,994 commuter experiences and 11,469 leisure experiences.   
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