CabSec under pressure after a huge increase in Scotrail compensation claims

The Scottish Government’s transport secretary was in difficulty during a session of Topical Questions in the Scottish Parliament today, after it was revealed that Scotrail has seen a 72.8% increase in the amount of compensation being paid to customers, topping £1,119,818 for 2018/19.


Scottish Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson Mike Rumbles unveiled the issue in a series of questions to the Cabinet Secretary, highlighting that despite three improvement plans in two years Scotrail is still failing to meet national targets on performance and customer service.


Mr Rumbles also drew attention to a report by the consumer watchdog Which? that describes the Scotrail compensation system as “fragmented and confusing”, requiring customers to provide up to 24 separate pieces of information before making a claim. The description contradicts the Cabinet Secretary’s own view that the Delay Repay Scheme is ‘straightforward’.


Mr Rumbles: “Both the First Minister and the transport secretary have admitted that Scotrail’s performance is not good enough. Now we need to see them making meaningful changes that will deliver a rail network fit for the 21st century.


“The huge increase in compensation paid to customers is only the tip of the ice berg. Continued cancellations and delays are having an impact on thousands of passengers and our national economy.


“Rail passengers just want a reliable service that gets them from A to B without having to cram on to overcrowded trains. It has become increasingly clear that it will not be delivered under the current franchise agreement.


“It is time the Scottish Government started looking at alternative operators.”



Notes for editors:


  • Topical Questions (21/05) - Mike Rumbles (Check against delivery): To ask the Scottish Government whether the new ScotRail timetable will alleviate delays and cancellations, in light of the 73% increase in compensation payments being made by the operator in 2018-19.  (S5T-01658)


  • The Consumer watchdog Which? has described the Scotrail compensation system as “fragmented and confusing” pointing out passengers must produce up to 24 pieces of information to claim. How does the Cabinet Secretary square those facts with his statement in a written Parliamentary answer on the 14th of May, that ‘compensation is straightforward to claim’?


  • We have had three improvement or remedial plans for Scotrail in three years under two Transport Secretary’s with 249 action points, 20 improvement measures and now we have a remedial plan with 9 initiatives. If Scotrail’s performance last year was the worst in 10 years with passenger compensation rising to £1.1million, does the Transport Secretary expect compensation levels to fall dramatically this year because of these plans, and if it doesn’t will he see that as further evidence of unacceptable performance?



  • Parliamentary question (14/05/19) - Mike Rumbles (North East Scotland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government how much ScotRail has paid to passengers in compensation in each month since April 2018, also broken down by what estimate it has made of how much potential compensation has been unclaimed. S5W-22916


Michael Matheson: From April 2018 to April 2019 ScotRail has paid entitled passengers a total of £1,119,818.35 through the Delay Repay Scheme. It is not possible accurately to determine how much compensation is unclaimed. Passengers can apply for compensation if their journey is delayed by 30 minutes or more and if they miss a connection because of a delay on a ScotRail train. Compensation is straightforward to claim by using the ScotRail app or at staffed stations and ScotRail’s web-site provides details of additional compensation that passengers may claim.


  • Mike Rumbles (North East Scotland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government how much compensation to passengers each month ScotRail (a) awarded in 2017-18 and (b) has awarded since April 2018, also broken down by how much estimated unclaimed compensation there was each month. S5W-20257


Michael Matheson: Under ScotRail’s ‘Delay Repay’ guarantee, total compensation of £647,670.00 was paid in 2017-18, and in 2018-19 (year to date) a total of £505,121.00 compensation has been paid. The table below shows the amounts paid in each Rail Industry 4 week period.


The increases in compensation payments made in Periods 4 and 7 (2018/19) were related to speed restrictions (Period 4) as Scotland experienced a hotter summer than normal, and in Period 7 the impact of ‘Storm Ali’ and an early autumn both of which impacted on ScotRail’s performance.


The Scottish Government does not have the specific information asked for related to unclaimed compensation.


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