Train firms will pocket more than £20 million in compensation because of rail shutdowns this Easter – but passengers enduring delays and disruption will not receive a penny.
Thousands of passengers will suffer longer journeys on diverted trains or replacement buses over the Easter bank holiday weekend as Network Rail carries out more than £100 million of engineering works.
Worst hit will be the West Coast Mainline, which connects London with Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. London Euston, Britain’s fifth busiest station, will be closed between Good Friday and Easter Monday and buses will replace trains north of Preston and Lancaster.
Thousands of passengers will suffer longer journeys on diverted trains or replacement buses over the Easter bank holiday as Network Rail carries out more than £100 million of engineering works
Virgin Trains, which operates the route, has advised passengers not to travel but those with no choice will have to use alternative routes, adding almost two hours on the journey between London and Glasgow.
Another key line, the Great Western between London and South Wales, will be shut near Bristol, forcing passengers to catch coaches and adding an hour on to the journey between London and Cardiff.
At least 19 of Britain’s 29 train companies are expected to get compensation from Network Rail for the ‘financial impact’ of the engineering works this Easter.
Two rail sources last night told The Mail on Sunday that at least £20 million will be forked out for the four days of chaos.
Network Rail paid £357 million in compensation to train firms in 2017/18, up from £207 million five years earlier. Rail bosses do not have to pass any of this on to passengers as long as they publish a reduced timetable in advance.
Virgin Trains, which operates the route, has advised passengers not to travel but those with no choice will have to use alternative routes
Bruce Williamson, spokesman for Railfuture, a passenger campaign group, said: ‘Passengers will be frustrated and feel they have a case for discounted fares.’
Network Rail will pay out £20 million in compensation to train firm because of rail shutdowns this Easter
Train firms gave passengers only nine weeks’ notice of this year’s disruption instead of the normal 12 weeks. Network Rail only issued its press release last Monday. Phil Harrison, 33, a management consultant, was emailed by Virgin Trains last week and told that a train he had booked for Easter Sunday between London and Manchester had been cancelled. His alternative journey home will now take an extra 90 minutes.
He branded Virgin’s customer service a ‘disgrace’, adding: ‘Changing trains over Easter and then expecting us to “turn up and hope for the best” at getting on a replacement… is disgusting.’
This year’s engineering projects will also see the Gatwick Express rail link closing for 48 hours, despite the airport expecting a busier Easter than normal.
Network Rail said its compensation payments to rail companies are designed to be ‘cost neutral’ and cover the cost of replacement buses, lost revenue, extra staff, and advertising to raise awareness of the delays.
Virgin Trains said: ‘Anyone who’s booked without knowing about the engineering work can get a refund or change their journey without penalty.’
Forget wrong kind of snow, now WIND halts rail service
A major rail service was shut down for nine hours yesterday – when bosses cancelled trains because of the threat of blustery winds.
The high-speed Gatwick Express, which links London, Gatwick Airport and Brighton, was suspended from 10am until 7pm by Southern Rail, affecting thousands of frustrated passengers.
A spokesman for the company said that the ‘unusual step’ was taken due to a combination of winds expected to gust at up to 60mph and congestion on the line due to slower trains.
Ticket holders were advised to use alternative services.