Commuters caught up in South Western Railway’s lengthy industrial action last year have until the end of this month to claim compensation.
For 27 days from 2 December, SWR embarked on Britain’s longest rail strike in history, hitting millions of commuters relying on its trains running in and out of London and beyond.
Around 850 trains a day were cancelled as a result of the industrial action, often leaving crowds of passengers queuing on platforms to pile in on any trains still running.
Compensation time: Commuters caught up in South Western Railway’s lengthy industrial action last year have until 30 September to claim compensation
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said its staff at SWR had been left with ‘no choice’ but to take industrial action following a long-running dispute over train guards.
Affected SWR customers now have until 30 September this year to apply to the rail company for compensation for disruption during the strike.
The deadline for compensation applications was initially set for next week.
Some customers on SWR’s system may have been contacted by the company directly about claiming compensation for the strike period, but anyone else affected will have to follow a number of steps to ensure they get the payout they deserve.
The amount of compensation on offer by SWR for last year’s industrial action varies, depending on the origin, destination, route and ticket type in question.
Affected customers with weekly, monthly, ‘monthly plus’, and annual season tickets covering the period can get up to five days worth of compensation.
SWR said: ‘The value of this will be calculated on the daily value of the season tickets held during the qualifying period.’
Anyone applying online for compensation has to meet certain eligibility criteria, depending on the type of ticket involved and have to put together ‘supporting evidence’ for their claim.
Steps to take: There are certain steps SWR customers need to take to ensure they are eligible to claim for compensation
For instance, customers with an Oyster season travelcard covering the period will need a receipt, often available online, showing the ticket price, valid to date and zones covered. Alternatively, customers with this type of ticket can also supply SWR with a redacted bank statement showing the ticket price.
Customers with season tickets who received no train service, bus replacement or local bus ticket acceptance during the period will get the full cost of travel for the days in which they had a valid ticket during the strike.
Chaos: For 27 days from 2 December, South Western Railway embarked on Britain’s longest rail strike in history
But, affected customers who used daily tickets for their travel, including, for example, ‘Anytime’, ‘Off-Peak’, single and return tickets will need to have travelled for at least three days in a seven day period to be eligible to claim compensation, SWR said.
It added: ‘Customers will be eligible up to a maximum of 5 days’ worth of compensation for the whole strike period.’
SWR is encouraging people to apply online for compensation, but anyone without a computer can send relevant evidence for a claim and a short cover letter to: Freepost SWR DECEMBER 2019 COMPENSATION SCHEME. No stamp is required as this is a freepost address.
Affected customers having trouble filling out their claim details online or by post can also call SWR, which is owned by owned by First Group and MTR Corporation, on 0800 496 1482 to get some help.
Rail companies across Britain suffered a major drop in passenger numbers after Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a national lockdown in late March.
The number of people using trains to commute has risen in the last few weeks, but levels remain well down on a year ago.
A sizeable number of railway season ticket holders and commuters will see a 1.6 per cent increase in fares from January despite a marked downturn in passenger demand.
About half of rail fares are pegged to July’s Retail Price Index, which defied forecasts and rose from 1.1 per cent in June.
The Government said any fare increases will be the lowest for four years, but passenger groups called for reductions as a result of the pandemic.
Ownership: South Western Railway is owned by First Group and MTR Corporation