COMMUTERS and rail passengers using South Western Railway face 27 days of strike chaos over Christmas – but they can claim compensation for delays and cancellations.
It comes as train staff working for the company have said they plan to walk out between December 2, 2019 and New Year's Day on January 1, 2020 due to a long-running dispute over guards on trains.
RMT assistant general secretary Steve Hedley told The Daily Telegraph it will be the "longest nearly-continuous rail strike in British history".
Certain stations are also shut over this period for planned engineering work, which will only add to the misery for rail users.
But crucially, if you're at least 15-minutes late reaching your final destination, you can still claim compensation under the "Delay Repay" scheme.
It's available to customers even during strikes, although in this situation delays are checked against the operator's amended timetable – if it's provided one.
Here's what you need to know.
How to claim compensation if you decide to travel
If your train has been delayed or cancelled and you still travel then you can submit a Delay Repay claim based on the delay reaching your destination.
For cancelled trains, this is based on you catching the next available train.
There are three ways to apply for Delay Repay with South Western Railways. You could either:
- Fill in an online form
- Download a paper form or collect one from staffed stations, and send it to the train company
- If you're a Touch smartcard season ticket holder, you can sign up for Automated Delay Repay
To get compensated, you'll need to apply within 28 days of your delay and provide proof of travel and some details about your journey.
If you've got ADR set-up, claims are automatically submitted within two to three days of you tapping out with your Touch smartcard – if you don't tap out, you'll need to submit a manual claim.
South Western Railway will then process your claim within 20 working days.
The amount you can get depends on how badly affected you were.
Those delayed by 15 to 29 minutes are entitled to 25 per cent of the cost of a single journey or 25 per cent of the value of one journey on your season ticket.
You'll only get 12.5 per cent back on return fares.
Those hit with delays of 30 to 59 minutes will be reimbursed half the cost of a single fare and the value of one season ticket journey, but only 25 per cent on a return ticket.
Anyone suffering more than an hour will be repaid the cost of their entire single journey or season ticket trip, or 50 per cent of their return fare.
If you've been delayed by two hours or more, you'll be reimbursed the full cost for single and return fares as well as the value of one season ticket journey.
You can choose to receive the cash repaid to you via bank transfer, credit or debit card or national rail vouchers.
How to get a refund if you decide not to travel
If you decide not to travel at all due to the disruption, or if you weren't able to make it to your destination, then you should apply for a refund of your ticket.
You can do this online at South Western Railway or at a South Western ticket office if you purchased the ticket directly.
If you bought the ticket via another train company or travel agent then you'll need to claim the refund from them.
You must do this within 28 days of the ticket expiry and note that South Western Railway may charge a £10 administration fee.
Just be aware that some tickets, such as advance fares, may not be eligible for a refund as separate terms and conditions apply to the sale of these fares.
Separate rules also apply to season tickets, and these vary depending on the length of your season ticket – see South Western Railway's website for more information.
The amount refunded will take into account any use you’ve had from your ticket, so it'll vary from case to case.
Here's more information on what Delay Repay compensation is.
As well as when the South Western Railway strikes are taking place.
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