Law guide: Complaints and disputes

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Making a complaint

Making a complaint

If you have a complaint about a rail service or journey, you must first complain directly to the responsible train operator.

Initial contact

When you first encounter a problem, try to contact someone as soon as possible. You should speak to a staff member on board the train or at your departure or destination station.

Always make sure you complain to the correct train operating company. You can find each company's contact details on the National Rail Enquires website.

In Northern Ireland, you can find contact details for complaints directly to the rail company on the Translink website.

What to do next

If you still want to complain or if you want to request for vouchers or refunds, go to the station in question or to the customer services department of the relevant train operator.

To get a refund, you'll need to give proof of purchase. Therefore, you should enclose a copy of your ticket or any other proof of purchase (e.g. a credit card receipt). It's recommended that you keep a photocopy of all documentation you send, together with proof of postage – you can get a Certificate of Posting at the post office counter when you post your letter.

Receiving compensation

The amount of compensation is determined by the National Rail Conditions of Travel or each train operator's Passenger Charter (see each individual train operator's website for details of their charter).

If a delay or cancellation wasn't within the operator's control, there is no requirement for it to make an offer of compensation.

See Problems with UK train services for further details.

Taking the matter further

If you're still unhappy with the train operator's response, you can ask Transport Focus to follow it up.

Transport Focus is an independent consumer watchdog dealing with journeys taken by road, rail, bus, coach and tram (but not London Underground). It can independently review your complaint and judge if it was handled appropriately. If it feels that the train company could have done more, it can make a representation to the company on your behalf.

The General Consumer Council, an independent body for consumers, will do the same in Northern Ireland.

Visit Transport Focus or the Consumer Council for more details and contact information.

Complaints involving injuries

If you have a complaint about an injury you got while on board a train or at a station, it's vital that you contact someone connected with the train or station as soon as possible. If the incident was the train company's fault or the fault of the company that operates the station, then get legal advice.

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