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RMT responds to ‘pitiful’ compensation scheme

AN enhanced compensation scheme announced by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) in response to the travel chaos caused by its botched introduction of new timetables was branded “pitiful” by the RMT union today.

The train operator announced that passengers who had made return trips on at least three days between May 20 and July 28 would be able to claim money back.

Previously, part-time workers were effectively denied enhanced compensation, as it was only available to commuters with weekly, monthly or annual season tickets.

However, only passengers who travelled on Great Northern or Thameslink services from the most affected stations can claim and the payout will depend on the number, cost and type of tickets bought.

GTR services were extremely disrupted, with unprecedented numbers of cancellations and delays, after new timetables were introduced without adequate preparation.

Rail travellers suffered badly as a result, with some commuters losing jobs and earnings, as well as having their work-life balance severely disrupted.

The high number of delays was revealed in recently published punctuality figures collected by Network Rail.

Nearly 40 per cent of all Thameslink trains were delayed by at least five minutes between 27 May and 23 June, up from 18 per cent in the same period of last year.

The proportion of delayed Great Northern trains also rose sharply, from 16 per cent in 2017 to 30 per cent this year.

GTR chief executive Patrick Verwer said: “We have listened to feedback.

“We believe it is right to extend the compensation scheme beyond season ticket holders to other regular travellers.”

However, RMT general secretary Mick Cash told the Star: “This is belated and pitiful levels of compensation after the misery that GTR have unleashed on their customers.

“Passengers don’t want to have to grovel for a few quid from these greedy spivs. They want decent, safe and accessible ‎services run under public control.”

Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, called for the compensation-claiming process to be as simple and effective as possible.

“It’s now important that train companies actively encourage passengers to claim and make it both quick and easy to do so,” he said.

The enhanced compensation is being offered in addition to the standard Delay Repay scheme, which makes payouts for individual journeys delayed by at least 15 minutes.


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