Train strikes: how to reclaim the cost of your ticket

4 min read
July 19, 2023

As industrial action on the UK rail network continues, passengers are having to change their plans or face disruptions, long delays and cancellations of their journeys. 

While most train operators offer a compensation or ‘delay repay’ scheme, as a passenger it can be difficult to know what you’re entitled to and how to make the claim. And the mass closure of ticket offices makes it even harder for those who may struggle using websites and apps. 

ASLEF and the RMT have just announced new dates for action in July. So in this article, we’ll give a helpful overview of the rules when it comes to reclaiming the cost of your ticket and a guide on submitting your claim. 

What are the rules for industrial action?

If your journey is affected by rail strikes most operators will offer you compensation. How much depends on a number of factors – including the length of the delay to your journey, the type of ticket you have or the particular operator you are travelling with. 

As well as the compensation or ‘Delay repay’ scheme, in some circumstances you may wish to make a claim for a missed event or to get some money back on your season ticket.  

Delays and cancellations 

If your journey is disrupted by delays or cancellation caused by industrial action you will be able to claim compensation or a full refund. 

If it’s a delay the amount you are entitled to will be calculated based on how much time you were delayed by. So if you’re delayed by thirty minutes or less you’ll receive a smaller refund, and if it’s more than two hours it may be 100% of the price of your ticket. 

With a cancellation, you will be entitled to a full refund. And if you’re making a return journey and only one leg is cancelled, you’ll still be able to claim a full refund for your ticket. 

Choosing not to travel 

If a journey is going to be affected by rail strikes, and you make the decision not to travel, most operators will still consider you eligible for a full refund. 

It is also good to remember that if you have already bought a ticket, but the particular journey you were intending to take is going to be disrupted, some operators will allow you to travel one day before the date of your ticket or up to two days after. Unfortunately, this does not apply to season ticket holders. 

Season tickets 

Train operators will allow season ticket holders to make a claim for disruption to their journeys. As with other claims, the amount will depend on the kind of disruption or amount of time you were delayed by. 

But in addition to this, some operators allow season ticket holders to make a claim for ‘Sustained poor performance.’ So if your daily commute is consistently disrupted ensure that you look into what options are available when it comes to getting some compensation. 

Knock-on effects

When a journey is disrupted this often has knock-on effects. Perhaps a train delay meant that you missed a concert, event or flight.  

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you can get a rail operator to refund your Beyoncé tickets. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic, event organisers are being more proactive in offering their customers ticket protection – so that if you are unable to attend an event you can still get a refund on your ticket. 

This kind of insurance can also be used to get back your money if you are unable to travel to an event due to industrial action or other kinds of travel disruption. You will usually be offered the option to purchase this type of insurance for a small extra fee when you are at the checkout. 

How to claim from your train operator 

To receive a refund or some compensation from a rail operator you’ll have to submit a claim via the website or app you bought the ticket through. Even if you bought your ticket from a machine in the station, you’ll still have to claim online or, if you prefer, by post rather than at a ticket office. 

If you want to make your claim by post you need to get a form from a staffed station or download it on the train company’s website. Some train companies allow customers to register certain kinds of tickets online to make future claims quicker and easier. 

The National Rail website has a Compensation and Refunds page to help you understand the rules for claims. 

They also have a helpful Find a Train Company tool, which makes it easy to look up each operator and figure out whether you’re entitled to a refund or compensation and how to submit your claim. 

You can also use our  free tool to raise a claim with your train operator. 

What you’ll need to claim 

While each train operator has its own process for making a claim, in general there a few things that are fundamental when it comes to supporting evidence: 

  • Make sure you record the train time, how long you were delayed and the reason given for the delay. You will need to supply this when you make the claim. 
  • You will almost always be asked to supply a photo or scan of your ticket or receipt. So hold on to your receipts and don’t throw away or delete your ticket until you have heard back from them.
  • You must make the claim within 28 days of the disrupted journey
  • You must submit your claim via the preferred method of the train operator – usually their website or app. You can use the National Rail website to find out what this is. 



If you have any thoughts on this topic, or any other consumer issues you would like us to cover, feel free to get in touch with us at

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