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Rail travel disruption – What do I do?

What do you do when things go wrong? We've got your back.

We don’t like it when things go wrong. But sometimes, delays and cancellations do happen. Don’t panic if you find yourself in the midst of rail travel disruption though, we’re here to tell you what to do during disruption and what your rights are.

What to do during travel disruption

When there’s disruption, operators need to do everything they can to keep you moving, where they’re able to. It’s even in the National Rail Conditions of Travel, which say:

“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.”National Rail Conditions of Travel, Section 28.2

If you have an advance ticket

If your train is cancelled, you can jump on the next one operated by the same company. There’s no need to ask permission first. Train companies may also agree to accept each other’s tickets, meaning that you can travel with a different company. If this happens, staff will let you know.

No more trains operated by the company you booked with? Another operator should allow you to travel with them instead.

If this isn’t possible, you should be provided with replacement transport or accommodation. You should not be left stranded or made to buy another ticket.

If you have a flexible ticket

You can use any trains within the route, operator and/or time restrictions of your ticket. In many cases, these restrictions will be lifted. Your rights to alternative transport, accommodation and refunds are the same as those stated above for Advance tickets.

Split tickets

Split tickets don’t affect your right to compensation or to alternative transport during rail travel disruption, so long as you make sure you leave enough time between each train. All of your tickets still form a journey, in the same way that a through ticket does.

If you miss a connecting train, you can still get another one. Just make sure you follow any restrictions on your ticket.

If you can’t go any further by train

Let railway staff know as soon as possible. This should ideally be when you’re at a staffed station or still travelling on a train. They should make the relevant arrangements for you, which will usually involve providing a bus or taxi.

In some situations, train operators may be unable to provide alternative arrangements during rail disruption. If this happens, they might tell you to book a taxi or hotel then contact them to claim back the cost.

You’ll need to keep hold of all your tickets and receipts and send them to the customer relations department of the operator that caused you to become stranded.

You can click here to find out more about what to do in rail disruption

Author Richard

Hi, I'm Richard and I've been working for Railsmartr since 2022. I make sure that everything we communicate with customers is top-notch and write exciting and informative content for the website. When I'm not at work, you'll still find me on the rails - though often in the far corners of Europe!