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Frequently Asked Questions

If you're new to Railsmartr or looking for answers to your questions, this guide will help you learn more about our services and their features.

Disruption and cancellations

Yes, you're still entitled to Delay Repay with split tickets. You can still claim for all of the tickets that formed your journey, too. Let's go through an example to show how Delay Repay with split tickets works. If you're travelling from Newcastle to Scarborough, then you could have a ticket from Newcastle to York and York to Scarborough. For this journey, you'd need to change at York. If your second train from York to Scarborough is delayed or cancelled, then you can still claim Delay Repay on both tickets for the entire journey. There are a couple of things to bear in mind:
  • You'll need to obey the minimum connection time if you're changing trains. When you book with Railsmartr, that's not a problem. We'll sell you the cheapest combination of tickets for the journey. If you're booking the tickets separately, be careful! We'd recommend using this website to check how long you need to leave between trains. Simply pop in a station and it'll tell you:
delay repay split tickets info - minimum connection time at newcastle station
  • Additionally, make sure that there aren't any gaps in your tickets. For example, if you book from Bristol to London Paddington, then London King's Cross to York, then there's a gap in the journey. You could only claim Delay Repay for the whole trip if there was a ticket covering travel on the Underground between the two London stations.
So, how do you claim Delay Repay? You'll need to claim from the first company that delayed you. Even if you miss another connection on the way or there's another delay, you'll always claim from the first one. Remember, multiple tickets can make up a journey. So, you can claim compensation for the whole journey, not just one of the tickets. Take a look at our guide to Delay Repay for more information.

UK rail strikes are currently affecting travel plans due to industrial disputes between rail operators and various unions. This will mean that widespread disruption is expected for rail services across Great Britain. 

We know that this will mean that your travel plans may need to be altered or may not be able to go ahead at all, but there are plans in place to help you.

Ticket acceptance

Thankfully, there are some easements to ticket validity to help you avoid the disruption. This means you'll be able to use your ticket on an earlier or later date. To find out more, you can visit our dedicated strike page

Refunds and amendments

Anytime, Super Off-Peak or Off-Peak tickets are fully refundable if you haven't used them. Here's how to apply for a fee free refund from us.

Advance tickets are non-refundable but can be amended to a different date. Look at our guide to amending your Advance ticket to find out how to change your booking. You're entitled to a full fee-free refund if your train is cancelled or rescheduled. Please check your train operator website before you travel for service updates.

Still have questions? You can also check for regular updates on the National Rail website. Or, you can email us if there's something you need to know about your trip. Our customer service team is here to help.

Affected services

For more details on service levels during strikes, click here to visit our dedicated page. 

Please note: All information contained on this page, including any service information, is issued without liability. It was correct at the time of publication (November 25, 2022) but may be subject to change. Railsmartr is not responsible for any loss, inconvenience or disrupted travel plans incurred as a result of the information provided. Always check with your rail operator before you travel. 

If you've missed the last train connection due to a delay, don't panic. Rail operators cannot leave you stranded mid-journey, especially if the delay is within their control. 

What do I do if I've missed the last train connection?

As per section 28.2 of the National Rail Conditions of Travel, "Where disruption prevents you from completing the journey for which your Ticket is valid and is being used, any Train Company will, where it reasonably can, provide you with alternative means of travel to your destination, or if necessary, provide overnight accommodation for you."

This means that train operators cannot leave you stranded if they're able to do something to help. This could mean providing you with a taxi, letting you use an alternative train company, or putting you up in a hotel. 

There are a few things that you can do to make sure that you don't have any issues if you've missed the last train connection due to a delay. Make sure that you let a member of staff know as soon as possible. This will give the company the greatest amount of notice in order to make arrangements for you. If you incur any extra costs, make sure that you keep the receipts and tickets.

What if it's impossible to travel?

If there is a 'do not travel' advisory issued, such as in cases of extreme weather, then you should only travel if absolutely necessary. It might not be possible to run any alternative transport, and train companies may struggle to help you. You'll be able to travel on a different day, or you can claim a full refund. If you've booked with Railsmartr, then you can contact us to do this. 

In widespread disruption, you may also be advised to make your own arrangements. For example, you might need to pay for a taxi and then claim back the cost later. Make sure that you get a receipt for your trip if you do this. Of course, you're not obliged to make your own arrangements. But, you may prefer to do this if it means that you can get to your destination quicker. 

We've produced a dedicated page about disruption, including the causes and some further information on what to do if you've missed the last train connection due to a delay. Click here to find out more. 

If your train doesn't run and you choose not to travel, you're entitled to a train cancellation refund. You're entitled to a full refund from us if we've sold you the ticket, no matter what kind of ticket it is.

If you do decide to travel, your ticket will almost always be valid to be used on a later service. In this case, you can then claim delay repay compensation directly from the train operating company. You'll need to get in touch within 28 days, from the last date your ticket was valid.

It's important to know the difference between a train cancellation refund and compensation. A refund is essentially what you claim if you haven't travelled, while you claim compensation if you do choose to travel. In either case, the amount you receive back won't exceed the cost of the ticket. 

Find out more about delay repay compensation and how to claim in our guide to refunds and amendments.

You can also find out more on the National Rail website

If you experience disruption during your journey, then you're usually entitled to train delay compensation. With some operators, you're entitled to compensation once this delay exceeds 15 minutes, but it could be as high as 60. 

When you're claiming compensation, it'll always need to be done through the operator that delayed you, which is usually the one that you were booked to travel with. 

There are some exceptions to when you can claim train delay compensation. The first one is if planned disruption caused a delay. For example, if your train was planned to be diverted or replaced by a bus and you were warned in advance, then you can't claim. We know that replacement buses make things frustrating, of course! You can click here to find out more about what to do when there's a bus replacement.

The second exception is if an emergency timetable is in place or the cancellation was added to the timetable no later than 10pm the day before. This usually means that a train has been 'removed' from the timetable rather than cancelled. 

While officially this means that you can't claim, we would encourage you to still contact the operator in these cases if you're delayed. If we're made aware of the cancellation in advance, then we'll email you and let you know. You'll be entitled to claim a refund if you prefer not to travel on an earlier or later train. 

Click here to find out more about delay repay on the National Rail website. You'll find links to each operator and how to claim compensation from each of them. 

If a rail operator gives out a 'do not travel' warning, then you have a couple of options. Let's go through them, and what you should do during disruption.

What is a 'do not travel' warning and where do I find it?

It's exactly what it sounds like! Train companies will give out a 'do not travel' warning when disruption is so severe that it's likely that your journey will be difficult or impossible to complete. 

You're still able to attempt to travel if you want to, but you might find that your journey is difficult to start in the first place. You might find that these warnings are given out during severe weather or industrial action, for example. 

You'll find warnings like these on the dedicated National Rail disruption page. It lists all of the current disruptions like this: 

example of a do not travel warning on national rail site

Usually, the warnings in red are most likely to be 'do not travel' warnings. Rail companies will also post them on their social media channels. 

What if I'm part way through my journey?

If a 'do not travel' warning is issued while you're part of the way through your journey, then train companies cannot simply abandon you. They have to do everything reasonably possible to either get you to your destination, or return you to your origin. 

You can find out more about your rights in our guide to disruption

Can I get a refund if there's a 'do not travel' warning?

In these situations, you'll either be able to get a refund or travel on a different day. If you booked with us, then we'll issue you a refund, without any additional fees. It doesn't matter which kind of ticket you've purchased. This includes if you've made part of your journey, but you've had to abandon it and return back to your origin station. 

Simply drop our Refunds team an email with your booking reference number and share a brief description of what happened. We'll be happy to assist and get your money back to you. 

'Leaves on the line' can feel like the most 'British' excuse there is for trains not running to time. After all, why would leaves cause your train to be late? Here's our handy guide to what those pesky leaves can do to trains and what rail operators do to try and minimise delays. What does 'leaves on the line' mean? In part, it's exactly what it sounds like! In the Autumn, when trees start to shed their leaves, they end up everywhere. One of those places is all over the railway. While leaves alone won't do any harm, the problem starts when trains run over them repeatedly and the ground becomes damp. Wet weather combined with a build-up of leaves turns them into a sort of slippery and mushy substance, which causes train wheels to skid. Think of it like driving on black ice! Why do leaves on the line cause delays? If a train is trying to speed up on a section covered in leaves, this can cause the wheels to skid. This is known as 'wheelslip'. When this happens, it can't gain any power or traction, so it can't gain any speed. This means that trains will take longer to get where they need to go, as drivers need to apply power more gradually to avoid wheelslip. Similarly, if a train is trying to brake, the wheels will slide again, so it's unable to slow down quickly. To counter this, drivers will often slow down earlier and more gradually to avoid wheelslip and ensure a smoother ride for passengers. What does the railway do about leaves on the line? During the Autumn, you might see some different-looking trains out on the network. They'll be rather short and have a locomotive on either end of some blue-coloured equipment. These are called 'Railhead Treatment Trains' and they use a high-powered water jet to wash away leaf mulch from the tracks. On areas of the network where leaves on the line are known to cause a particular problem, these trains will often run overnight to ensure that the line is clean for the first trains in the morning. Will train times change because of leaves on the line? Some rail companies will introduce a leaf fall timetable, which adds a few extra minutes or removes some stops in order to give trains more time to run safely. You can find more information on the National Rail website, but here are the currently announced changes for 2022 in a nutshell:
Rail Operator Planned Changes
Chiltern Railways From 3 October: Trains running towards London on the Aylesbury Vale Parkway to London Marylebone via Amersham route may depart up to three minutes earlier. Other Chiltern services may arrive at destinations up to three minutes later.
Merseyrail From 3 October: Trains running towards Liverpool from Chester, Ellesmere Port and Southport may leave stations up to three minutes earlier, but will arrive in Liverpool City Centre at their usual time. Trains running from Liverpool to Chester, Ellesmere Port and Southport will depart at their usual time from Liverpool City Centre, but will arrive at subsequent stations up to three minutes later.
Northern From 3 October: The following routes will see an amended timetable:
  • Sunderland/Newcastle to Hexham/Carlisle
From 10 October: The following routes will also see an amended timetable:
  • Manchester Victoria to Blackburn/Clitheroe
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Hazel Grove/Buxton
  • Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield (stopping service)
If your train is delayed as a result of leaves on the line, you may be entitled to compensation.

It happens to the best of us. It's frustrating when you've missed your train, but what you're able to do next depends on the type of ticket that you have, and why you've missed the train. 

Missed train due to rail delays

If you've missed the train because of another rail delay, then you're covered. It doesn't matter if you're using separate tickets, either. So long as you've left enough time to change trains, then it's no problem that you've missed the train. 

Do you have a flexible train ticket, such as an Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak ticket? No problem. Just hop on the next train, so long as your ticket doesn't have any restrictions on which company you can use. In this case, you might need to stick to the operator on the ticket.

If you have an Advance ticket, you can get the next train operated by the same company that's specified on your ticket. If there's widespread disruption, or a very long wait until the next train (over 60 minutes), then you should be accommodated on a different company at no extra cost. You can find out more about your rights in the National Rail Conditions of Travel

You will be offered First Class compensation if you possess a First Class ticket and there is no First Class on the next service. Claims can be made through the train operating company you are travelling with.

Missed train due to external delays

Have you missed your train because of an external reason, such as an overrunning meeting or traffic congestion? If you have a flexible ticket, that's no problem. Just make sure that your ticket is still valid for the time of train that you want (eg. if you have an Off-Peak ticket and it's near peak time). 

If you have an Advance ticket, speak to staff if you can. Officially, you would need to buy a new ticket if you're missed your train. However, if there's been an accident on the roads nearby, or Tube and Metro delays, then staff can show discretion. They might even be briefed to accept tickets if it's affecting a lot of customers. 

Don't board a train in these circumstances without speaking to staff first. It's highly likely that you'll be asked to buy a new ticket, or face a Penalty Fare. 

 

For many rail users, it's their worst nightmare. You book a rail ticket, and you end up on a Rail Replacement bus. Sometimes, it's necessary to catch a Rail Replacement bus when there are planned engineering works or in cases of disruption.

What is a Rail Replacement bus?

A Rail Replacement bus is provided when the railway is unable to run a train service. It could be planned (such as in engineering works) or last-minute (if there's disruption). Buses will usually stop only at the railway stations on the route, but they might stop somewhere else if road access is difficult. Companies will often run a stopping bus to serve all stations on the route, as well as an express one that serves the most important destinations.

How do I know if part of my journey involves a Rail Replacement bus?

If a replacement bus service has been planned, then it'll be added to the timetable. This means that Railsmartr will be able to tell you when you're booking your ticket. Here's what to look for: Railsmartr website showing a rail replacement bus service When you search for a journey, just click on the arrow next to the journey time. This will tell you whether your service is a train or a bus (or something else!) and who it's operated by. Rail Replacement buses are usually operated by third-party companies on behalf of a rail operator.

Am I entitled to compensation if I need to use a replacement bus service?

If you've bought a ticket and planned engineering works or other anticipated disruptions mean that you need to catch a Rail Replacement bus, then unfortunately you aren't. While this may be frustrating, compensation is calculated against the advertised timetable. You can find more information on what counts as the 'planned timetable' in the National Rail Conditions of Travel. The exception to this is if your Rail Replacement bus becomes delayed, too. For example, if it becomes stuck in traffic and you miss your connecting train, then you can still claim compensation. You'll need to claim compensation from the rail operator that the bus service was operated on behalf of. If unplanned disruption means that you had to catch a Rail Replacement bus, then you're also entitled to compensation. You'll need to claim from the rail operator that first caused the delay on your journey.

Where do I catch a Rail Replacement bus from?

Good question, as it certainly won't be waiting for you on the platform! Generally, a replacement bus service will leave from the front of the station, the nearest main road or from a bus station if it's close to the railway station. To find out where your bus leaves from, click here. Just type in the name of your station and scroll down to 'Staffing and general services'.

What if I'm unable to use a Rail Replacement bus?

While replacement bus services should be accessible to all passengers, sometimes this isn't always possible. In these cases, the rail operator will be able to book accessible replacement transport for you or arrange for you to travel on a different route. Click here to find out more about how you can book assistance for your journey. If you have any questions about your journey, you can also contact us.

In normal circumstances, you're unfortunately not entitled to compensation for consequential loss when travelling by train. However, in cases of extreme disruption, rail operators may compensate for some consequential loss. 

Examples of this include: 

  • Needing to pay for a taxi to avoid becoming stranded
  • Missing a flight as a result of an extreme delay 
  • Having to stay in a hotel because disruption means that you're unable to travel any further. 

In any of these cases, rail companies may compensate for these consequential losses, either officially or as a gesture of goodwill. Railsmartr doesn't handle these claims. 

If you wish to do this, make sure that you get a receipt for anything that you wish to claim on. Rail operators cannot issue refunds for consequential loss where you don't have proof of purchase. 

Please note that in cases of industrial action, rail operators are unable to compensate for additional transport costs. 

In some cases, you may also be able to claim on your travel insurance. Contact your provider for more details. 

You can click here to find out more about disruption, why it happens and what you can do about it. 

If a train time has changed after booking, then this can be frustrating. Don't worry though, there are a couple of things to look out for, and ways that Railsmartr can help you with this. 

Why has my train time changed after booking?

The departure or arrival time of a train can change for a number of reasons. At the moment, this is usually because of industrial action. On strike days, or during an overtime ban, some operators will choose to change their timetable in order to deliver a manageable and predictable level of service. 

It might also be that short-notice engineering works have been announced. Some companies will also put their trains on sale while they're still confirming the timetable. In the case of the latter though, there shouldn't be a drastic change to the time that you've booked. 

What will Railsmartr do if this happens?

If a train company updates the timetable, so that we can see that the train time has changed after booking, then we will let you know. You'll receive an email that looks like this if you book through Railsmartr

Email from Railsmartr showing a train time changed after booking

Can I get a refund if the train time changed after booking?

Yes, you're entitled to a fee-free change or refund if the train time changes after booking. However, if it's just changed by a few minutes, then don't worry. Your reservation will remain the same, and your original ticket will be valid. 

Similarly, if your train is cancelled, you don't need to rebook your ticket. You're simply allowed to use the train before or train after that is operated by the same company stated on your ticket. 

If your trip has been disrupted by industrial action, then there'll be more extensive ticket acceptance in place. This will allow you to use your ticket on a different day, if you want to. 

Unfortunately, you can’t get Delay Repay Compensation from Railsmartr. You'll need to get in touch with the train operator you travelled with.

To qualify
  • Your train must be delayed by at least 15 minutes reaching the destination on your ticket. Sometimes it may be at least 30 minutes – this varies by train operator
  • Make sure you haven't refunded your tickets – you'll need these for your Delay Repay claim
  • Claim with 28 days of your ticket being valid. This can also vary so it's best to check your train operator's website for details.
Who to contact
  • Get in touch with the train operating company that caused the delay
  • If your journey involved more than one late train operator, you should contact the one that caused your first delay
  • Need more help getting the right amount of compensation from the train operators? Just email us at hello@railsmartr.co.uk. We'll be happy to help!
Find out more about Delay Repay compensation, refunding or amending your ticket on our handy help pages.

Yes. You can get a refund if your train was delayed and as a result you abandoned your journey and didn't reach your destination. There's no strict definition of how late a train must be for you to be eligible.

Simply drop our Refunds team an email with your booking reference number and we'll do the rest.

What to remember if your train was delayed
  • If you do reach your destination by rail, no matter how late, unfortunately we can't offer you a refund. You'll need to apply for Delay Repay compensation from the train operator that caused the delay.
  • Get in touch with our Refunds team within 28 days of your travel date for your refund claim to be valid.
  • We can only give you a refund if you abandoned your train journey altogether.

    Find out more on our refund and amendments help page.