A RAIL UNION has clashed with train operators over the level of compensation they are paying to passengers for delays to services.
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) claimed that companies were given £167m by Network Rail in 2013/14 for delays, but only paid out £22m in refunds for late running and cancelled trains.
The union accused train operators of acting like “Robin Hoods in reverse”.
But the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators and Network Rail, said passenger compensation was unrelated to the rail regulator’s scheme.
The organisation insisted that payments were “increasingly generous”.
A spokesman said: “Passengers are at the heart of what we do and the rail industry wants to provide an even more reliable and efficient service.
“Despite more journeys being made punctually, compensation paid to passengers under the Delay Repay scheme has increased by £10m in the last year.
“Payments are increasingly generous and easy to apply for and are made regardless of the cause of a delay.
“Passenger compensation is completely unrelated to the rail regulator’s scheme where payments between Network Rail and operators are designed to discourage delays and encourage punctuality.
“When delays occur it disrupts people’s journeys and can put them off travelling altogether, hitting train company revenues and the amount operators pay back to government for investment in the railway. Payments between operators and Network Rail reflect this.”
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “These firms are acting like modern day Robin Hoods in reverse.
“For every £8 they got from the taxpayer, they only paid out £1 to passengers. They take from the poor traveller to make themselves even richer. It’s the economics of the madhouse.”
He said it was time for the system for railway passenger refunds to be overhauled “because the dice is loaded against passengers in favour of the private rail firms”.