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£1.7m compensation paid out by Translink since 2016

Claims much lower than decade ago, but bus and train firm still urged to do better

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Translink paid out more than  £560,000 to settle compensation claims in a single year, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal. (David Young/PA)

Translink paid out more than £560,000 to settle compensation claims in a single year, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal. (David Young/PA)

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Translink paid out more than £560,000 to settle compensation claims in a single year, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal. (David Young/PA)

Translink paid out more than £560,000 to settle compensation claims in a single year, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

That equates to around £1,500 a day.

The figures for the 12 months to last April have jumped more than 60% compared to three years previously.

During 2019/20 the public transport operator paid out £566,000 - just under a third of the total £1.7m issued after successful claims since 2016.

Nearly 160 complaints were settled during 2019/20, with the single biggest compensation payout being £30,000.

The figures obtained after a Freedom of Information request show a rise in payouts in recent times.

However, they are lower than a decade ago when more than £4m was paid in a five-year period.

Last year (2019/20) saw the highest bill since 2016.

Meanwhile, between March 2020 and December 2020, a further £284,000 in compensation was paid out.

But with there being many fewer passenger journeys due to the Covid crisis, costs are on course to fall sharply this year. A breakdown of the figures shows that in the four years to April 2020 Translink paid out a total of 564 compensation claims, rising from 134 in 2016/17 (£347,000) to 158 (£566,000) during the 2019/20 year. That represents an increase of around 63% over the period.

In 2016/17 the biggest claim settled by Translink was £15,000.

Payouts dipped slightly the following year (2017/18) at £305,000. One claim in that period resulted in compensation of £69,000.

During 2018/19 the payouts totalled £536,000, with one of £44,000.

Translink said it deals with fewer than two claims for every 100,000 passenger journeys.

The payouts follow incidents and accidents involving Translink vehicles.

The £1.7m compensation bill since 2016 has prompted calls for Translink to make every effort to keep claims as low as possible.

DUP MLA Keith Buchanan, who sits on the Stormont Infrastructure Committee, said: "Everyone wants to see the best use of public money, and funds used to settle compensation claims cannot help improve our public transport network or other vital services.

"Whilst the figures appear relatively high, I do understand the point made that the payments equate to 1.7 claims per 100,000 journeys.

"Thankfully, also, the level of claims are much lower than they were nearly a decade ago, where nearly one claim per day was being settled each year and over £4.3m was paid out over a five-year period.

"The number of cases has been increasing over the last four years, along with the total paid out.

"It is important that Translink ensures that every effort is made to keep the cost of such claims to a minimum and that robust action is taken against anyone bringing a fraudulent claim."

Translink said: "Safety is our number one priority and we are industry-leading, with less than 1.7 claims per 100,000 passenger journeys.

"This is a small percentage of the total number of claims for all modes of transport.

"Since 2016 we have carried 329m passenger journeys and our buses have travelled approximately 167.3m miles.

"Public transport is one of the safest modes of transport.

"Compensation payments do not necessarily reflect incidents from the year that claims are settled.

"They often relate to previous years, so are not always a direct comparison, and there is often more than one claim per incident."

Translink added: "The average cost per claim has also increased in recent years, in line with recent insurance industry standards, for all modes of transport".

Belfast Telegraph


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