UNDER-FIRE train operator First Great Western has pledged to change the way it handles compensation claims for passengers hit by delays.
Furious season ticket holders – including some who travel from Bracknell and Wokingham to London Paddington via Reading – say they feel ripped off because they cannot claim anything back for delays to individual services.
First Great Western only offers annual and monthly season ticket holders a 5% discount off their next yearly pass if it fails to meet its punctuality targets over the whole year.
This is unlike passengers with daily and weekly passes, who can claim National Rail vouchers for some delays or the full cost of a single or return ticket if their train is more than two hours late. But First Great Western has now told The Midweek it would like to adopt a new system – known as ‘Delay Repay’ – when the franchise for the heaving Reading to London route comes up for contract tendering in September next year. Delay Repay is offered by some operators including Southeastern, which gives all its passengers National Rail vouchers if their train is delayed by 30 minutes or more.
Commuter Emily Gray has set up a petition calling on First Great Western to allow season ticket holders to be able to make a claim for compensation after experiencing weeks of disruption during the floods.
Emily, who travels from Twyford to Paddington every day, said: “Why should we be paying the same amount as other season ticket holders when our line is really old and unreliable?
“FGW would be more accountable if they had to pay out every time a train was late rather than just absorbing it into a blanket 5% discount, which means that no matter how bad the service is we get the same level of financial compensation.
“We pay for a service and when they don’t provide it they shouldn’t still be taking our money.” FGW spokesman Dan Panes said: “Our current franchise was let with a compensation scheme based on the Passenger Charter system.
“We would wholeheartedly support adopting the Delay Repay, should the Department for Transport include it in any future franchise.” The train operator has introduced a 3.1% fare rise for 2014 meaning an annual season ticket between Reading and Paddington costs £4,088, while a monthly pass stands at £392.50. To sign the petition, visit epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/61193