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UK to trial automatic refunds for shoddy train service

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Everyone reading this will have been inconvenienced by a delayed train at some point, if not frequently, but it's unlikely you went to the bother of seeking compensation. Probably because noting down the length of the delay and filling out a refund form at a ticket office or online seems more trouble than it's worth for a few quid. Railways Minister Claire Perry thinks it's high time the process was simplified, which is why she's proposing a new system that would refund passengers for delayed or cancelled trains automatically. As The Times reports, up to 90 percent of affected passengers don't chase compensation, resulting in as much as £100 million going unclaimed each year. Refund policy was changed a few months ago so passengers could request cash instead of vouchers, and under Perry's plan, those entitled to a refund would see money owed automatically deposited into their bank account, or added to their smart ticket balance.

It's going to take some time before the new system is put into place, but the immediate plan is to trial automatic refunds with train operator c2c sometime next year. Should its trains between London and Essex be delayed or cancelled, passengers using the company's Smartcard paperless ticket will be reimbursed when they touch out at their destination. With plenty of train services offering similar kinds of smart tickets (like London's Oyster card) and contactless payments, it shouldn't be too much trouble to extend the scheme in the future. That's exactly what the government intends to do should the trial be deemed successful, and it'll even make automatic compensation a requirement for all UK operators. It probably won't make delays any less frequent, but at least you'll effectively be getting paid to sit on a cold platform bench for an hour.

[Image credit: Shutterstock]

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