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How to get a refund on train tickets during the coronavirus lockdown

If your train travel has been impacted by the Coronavirus lockdown, there are some things you can do to get your money back.

Train tickets piled up

As things change rapidly during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, this guide will be updated regularly to reflect changes in rules and regulations.

Lockdown: When can you get a full refund on train tickets?

Train services have been cut back due to the pandemic. On top of this, the government has advised the majority of people not to use public transport. 

The good news is that you can get a refund for the vast majority of train tickets. Mostly, this can be done without having to pay any admin fees. 

In addition, the time you’re given for applying for a refund has been increased from 4 weeks to 8 weeks from the last day the unused ticket was valid.

Which ticket types are fully refundable?

All Off-Peak and Anytime train tickets can be completely refunded, with no admin fee to pay. 

You’ll be able to get a full refund for an Advance ticket if you booked it before 23 March. This was the date when the government began advising against non-essential travel.   

Any tickets bought after 7am on 23 March will not be eligible for a complete (fee-free) refund.

It is also possible to get a part-refund if you bought a return ticket, but were only able to make part of your journey. 

There are some circumstances where you might not be able to get a full refund. This varies depending on your train operating company. 

If you have Carnet tickets, your train operator may be able to offer you a range of options. You might be able to get an extension or a part-refund on any unused Carnet tickets. 

It may be a good idea to contact the company that sold you the Carnet tickets for more information.

Can commuters apply for a refund on season tickets? 

Yes. How much of a refund you’ll be able to get will depend on when you bought the season ticket.

Train companies will calculate how much to refund you by deducting the value of any other tickets you could have travelled with in the same time until you stopped using your season ticket.

You’ll be able to backdate your refund up to a maximum of 56 days from when it is submitted or from when the ticket was last used (whichever is later).

Remember, these rules apply if you are unable to travel due to government guidance on non-essential travel. 

To get an idea of how much you can expect to get from your refund, you can use National Rail’s Season Ticket Refund Calculator. This might not be the exact amount you get back, but it should give you a good ballpark figure.

How does claiming a refund work?

To get a refund, you’ll need to go to the train operator’s website, or any third party site you used to buy the ticket. 

Find your train company’s contact details 

Your train company will refund the money into the account you used to pay for it, or by cheque. 

You have the right to demand cash, so do not be fobbed off with train vouchers! 

Are there charges for claiming a refund?

You should not be charged for claiming a refund for any journeys you are not able to make as a result of the government’s advice against non-essential travel.

The only exception is if you apply for a season ticket refund. In this situation, your train operator does take £10 from the amount it will refund you as an admin fee. 

Can you get a refund for part of your annual travel card?

Unfortunately, annual railcard holders cannot get refunds right now.

So, if you have a card giving you a third off rail travel for a year, you cannot get any money back from the upfront cost of that railcard.

If you’ve been treated unfairly by your train company 

If you are unhappy with the response you get from your train company, you can log an official complaint with them.

Read how to write a complaint letter.

If you are still unhappy, you can escalate your complaint to Transport Focus or the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).