Automatic payouts for delayed rail journeys proposed by Labour

Rail passengers could be automatically compensated for delayed journeys under plans set out by Scottish Labour.

Commuters await a train to Glasgow at Falkirk High station. ScotRail has been urged to launch an awareness campaign to inform passengers of their rights. Picture: Michael Gillen

The party has called on ScotRail to introduce a system where partial or full refunds are paid out automatically to customers who experience delays of 30 minutes or more if they have paid by credit, debit or smart card.

Scottish Labour has also urged the operator to launch an awareness campaign so all passengers, including those who pay by cash, are aware of their rights to compensation.

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Under existing rules, passengers can claim back 50 per cent of the cost of a single ticket or 25 per cent of the cost of return if their journey is delayed by 30 to 59 minutes.

Refunds increase to the full cost of a single ticket and 50 per cent of a return for delays of one hour to one hour and 59 minutes, and the full cost of a single or a return for delays of more than two hours. Passengers are required to apply for the “delay repay” compensation online or by post.

There has been widespread criticism of the reliability of ScotRail trains since current operator Abellio took over the franchise in 2015.

ScotRail was ordered to produce a performance improvement plan last year after punctuality and reliability fell below the expected standard.

Labour transport spokesman, Neil Bibby, said: “Passengers have always been entitled to compensation for significant delays, but many are unaware of their rights. Scottish Labour has repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to run an awareness campaign.

“Now we are going further and demanding that automatic compensation is introduced for passengers paying by card if their train is 30 minutes or more late.”

The scheme is part of the party’s broader plan for Scotland’s railways, which also includes bringing ScotRail and the Caledonian Sleeper into public ownership when the franchises expire, “fairer fares” for passengers and ending the expansion of driver-only operations.

A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said: “The most recent figures show that 94 per cent of our trains are on time, and that nine out of ten customers are satisfied with ScotRail. The investment we are making in new and better trains will mean faster journeys, more seats and better services.”

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “We welcome any measures which would make it easier for passengers to claim compensation.”