The Department for Transport has announced that train passengers with tickets that they will not use due to coronavirus will be able to claim fee-free refunds.
The measures are designed to help out commuters who are no longer travelling due to the social distancing measures the government is enforcing.
This includes fee-free refunds on weekly, monthly and annual passes for the foreseeable future.
Previously, a refund was only possibly if you paid an admin fee of £10 but the government have waived this.
There is a minimum amount of time that has to be left on a ticket in order to claim, however.
For a weekly ticket, there must be three days left. For a monthly ticket, there must be seven days left unused, and for an annual ticket there must be three months left unused.
These measures also apply to train customers who have purchased an advance ticket for an upcoming journey.
These are normally non-refundable, but instead can be amended for a £10 additional fee. Off-peak and anytime tickets can now be refunded without an admin charge, too.
To obtain any of the above refunds, customers are advised to contact the source they purchased it from, whether that is a train company on an independent ticket retailer such as tramline.com.
Various Train operators have chimed in via Twitter to tell people that getting refunds is the best thing to do in the current situation.
Hi Samantha, you can either get a full refund or change your date/time of your ticket without an admin fee. Probably best going for the refund at the moment. ^PF— CrossCountry trains (@CrossCountryUK) March 24, 2020
Train companies have now agreed to offer refunds on more Advance tickets. Request an exchange or refund from us online: https://t.co/UiYWLnpF0H— trainline (@thetrainline) March 23, 2020
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are taking this action to protect the key workers who depend on our railways to carry on their vital roles, the hardworking commuters who have radically altered their lives to combat the spread of coronavirus, and the frontline rail staff who are keeping the country moving.”
He explained the measures were to “ensure no-one is unfairly out of pocket for doing the right thing.”
🚨NEW: From today anyone holding a season or advance ticket will be able to get a refund without any admin fees charged.— Transport Focus (@TransportFocus) March 23, 2020
We're pleased train companies and @transportgovuk have listened and done the right thing for passengers during the #Coronavirus outbreak. pic.twitter.com/Z6f8lpykeX
The measures come as the Government are making fundamental temporary changes to the way the rail service is structured.
The changes are set to see the train service resembling the nationalised model suggested by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party before the 2019 election.
There has been a 70% drop in train passengers, mirroring a two-third drop in train ticket sales according to the Department for Transport.
Because of this, the companies who runs the train services have faced a serious drop in their annual income.
Whilst they have cut back the amount of train services, continuous charges including the cost of leasing trains and keeping staff employed take up the majority of their outgoing expenditure.
To help, the DfT has removed a number of rules, called rail franchise agreements, which govern the day-to-day running of train networks. Under these contracts, the train operators usually make payments to the government to continue running their services.
These contracts have been suspended for six months.
A DfT spokesperson said the operators will continue to run services “for a small predetermined management fee.”
“The rail industry is working together so that people and goods can keep making essential journeys during this unprecedented national challenge, getting key workers to hospitals, food to shops and fuel to power stations,” Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, told BBC News.
“While we need to finalise the details, this will ensure that train companies can focus all their efforts on delivering a vital service at a time of national need.”
There is no information yet available about the potential end-date of this scheme, though it currently covers all pre-booked tickets with no final date.
The Government has not yet given word about whether this will extend to buses, trams or underground passes.
Featured image credit: DfT / UnSplash