Translink pays out £13,000 to delayed rail passengers
Northern Ireland's public transport operator is paying out thousands of pounds to unhappy customers every year after their trains were delayed.
Translink issued refunds totalling £13,600 over the last three years, with customers given travel vouchers rather than cash.
The number of claims has fallen. The largest payout was £7,500 in 2016. By 2017 this had fallen to £3,100 and up to November 2018 it was £3,000.
The figures were released after a Freedom of Information request by the Belfast Telegraph.
Approximately 950 claims were lodged in 2016, 360 claims in 2017 and 340 claims in 2018 up to the date of request.
Passengers are entitled to receive compensation for a range of reasons. These include:
l If a journey is delayed between 30 and 59 minutes, compensation to the value of 50% of the cost of a single ticket or 50% of either portion of a return ticket, meaning either the outward or return leg;
l For journeys delayed between 60 and 119 minutes, compensation to the value of 100% of the cost of a single ticket or 100% of either portion of a return ticket;
l For journeys delayed by more than two hours, compensation to the full value of the price paid for a return journey. Holders of single tickets will also be compensated with the value of a return ticket for their journey.
Compensation is not payable in cases of security alerts, crime, very extreme weather or actions of a third party outside of the control of NI Railways.
SDLP MLA John Dallat said Translink should review its repayment system so that people should receive cash if they have been inconvenienced.
He said: "The improvement and delivery of rail services as a result of investment has been extremely welcome and it would be disappointing if those customers who feel let down are not adequately compensated in cash, which is I think the most widely accepted way of reimbursing people who haven't had services delivered.
"I think it's in the interests of Translink to review that policy and to have a strict practice of compensating people when the service has let them down."
Translink said: "We pay compensation in NI Railways vouchers as opposed to cash. These can be used to pay for, or towards, rail tickets for local journeys as per our Passenger Charter requirements.
"Cross-border rail services have their own compensation arrangements. Delay-Repay does not apply to those in receipt of free travel."