UK rail strikes: What are your rights?

Rail companies are planning on striking…again. Here’s what you need to know. 

The ASLEF Union has announced even more rail strikes for more than a week at the end of January, going into early February, with a different rail operator affected each day.

Each train operator has slightly different information available, but the gist is that you probably want to avoid travelling during these times (if that’s possible) and can’t rely on the usual timetables. Here are your rights to a refund and compensation for cancelled and delayed trains. 

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When are the UK rail strikes?

This time, the rail strikes will take place over nine days, with different operators striking for each one. There’s an additional overtime ban between Monday 29 January 2024 to Tuesday 6 February which all affected rail operators will be taking part in.

Here are the impacted operators for each day:

  • Tuesday 30 January: South Western Railway, Southeastern, Southern, Gatwick Express, Great Northern Railway and Thameslink.
  • Wednesday 31 January: Northern Railway and TransPennine Express.
  • Friday 2 February: Greater Anglia, C2C and LNER
  • Saturday 3 February: Avanti West Coast, East Midlands Railway, London Northwestern Railway, West Midlands Railway
  • Monday 5 February: Great Western, CrossCountry and Chiltern.

You can find out more about which train operators are participating in the strike here.

Will I be impacted by rail strikes?

If you plan to use the train between Monday 29 January 2024 to Tuesday 6 February, you’ll likely be impacted by strikes in one way or another.

Do rail strikes affect the tube?

Sometimes train strikes coincide with tube strikes, which adds a whole extra stress when travelling around London.

There aren’t any tube strikes planned at the moment, so Londoners and those travelling in shouldn’t have a problem with the underground, although on dates when there aren’t any tube strikes, train strikes can make tubes a little busier as people make other travel arrangements. 

These strikes don’t typically impact the DLR, London Overground services, the Elizabeth Line, buses, trams or cable cars. 

Will there be bus replacements?

There aren’t usually bus replacements during strikes, typically because there isn’t any staff available to drive the buses.

Sometimes bus companies will put on extra services to ease the pressure on their services while trains aren’t running, check with some of your local ones to find out if this is the case, but don’t expect the buses to run the same routes as your usual train. 

Can I still travel if there are rail strikes?

You can still travel during rail strikes, but it won’t be much fun, or easy. 

Train operators won’t be running their full timetables. They’ll typically publish their timetables a few days earlier, although this could be subject to more cancellations or delays.

If you need to travel, keep an eye on live travel information in the days leading up to the journey and on the day. Lots of operators have regularly updated Twitter pages where you can find information about delays.

You can also check live information on their websites and using third parties like Trainline. 

Be prepared for full trains. You may not be able to get a seat, and moving around the trains may be difficult if you plan to nip to the loo. 

Can I travel on a different day with the same ticket?

Usually, you can use your ticket to travel a day earlier or a day later than the date printed on it.

This often excludes season tickets, which will expire on the same day, regardless of any strikes. 

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Can I get a refund if there’s a rail strike?

If your train is cancelled

If your outward or return train is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled, you’re entitled to a fee-free refund or a change in your ticket from whoever you bought the ticket from. This is the case for advance, off-peak and anytime tickets. 

Can I get a refund if I choose not to travel due to strikes?

If you choose not to travel because a strike is occurring, you may be able to get a refund on the ticket if the train is cancelled, rescheduled or delayed. If the train runs as planned, this might not be possible. I’d recommend you contact your train provider directly in this instance.

You may be able to use the ticket to travel on a different day. There’s more about this above. 

Alternatively, you might be able to use your ticket to travel with a different train operator. 

Can I get a refund if I have a season ticket?

If you have a monthly or longer season ticket, you may be able to get compensation through Delay Repay if you cannot travel due to timetable disruption. You’ll be able to claim 100% compensation for these days. 

You can apply for a refund on your entire season ticket from the original retailer of your ticket, though you may have to pay a fee of up to £10. You’ll only be able to get a refund for the time remaining on the ticket and this would cancel your season ticket going forwards. 

If you have a weekly season ticket which was purchased after the strikes were announced, you can only get compensation if you travel and your train is cancelled or delayed. ​

Can I get a refund on my ticket if strikes impact my journey?

If you’ve chosen to travel and there are delays, you might be able to claim with Delay Repay. This gets you a refund on a portion of your ticket based on the length of your delay.

It’s worth noting that this will be based on the published timetables that are released a few days before the strike action, not the usual timetables.

What is Delay Repay?

Delay Repay is a scheme that runs across all train providers nationwide. It allows you to claim a part or full refund on your train ticket if you’re delayed by more than 15 minutes. 

This runs from a 12.5% refund to 100% of the cost, so it’s worth doing if you’re regularly delayed. 

We have a full guide on Delay Repay, which includes information on when you can claim, what you’ll need to do and how you’ll receive the refund. 

Can I get compensation if there’s a train strike?

If rail strikes make me miss my event, can I claim compensation?

You probably can’t claim compensation for missing an event. If you can’t take alternative travel, the best thing to do would be to contact the event organiser to see if you can reschedule your tickets or get a refund. You may have to sell your tickets.

Can I get compensation if I can’t get to work due to rail strikes?

You won’t be able to claim compensation for being unable to get to work due to train strikes. Most employers will be aware of the strikes, so your best bet is to ask about working from home or changing your shift patterns to work around the strike. 

Can I claim compensation if I have to get a hotel or take a taxi?

You’re unlikely to be able to claim compensation for a taxi or hotel due to rail strikes. Under certain (and very rare) circumstances, rail companies have allowed customers to take a taxi, but you’ll need to get permission from the rail provider for this.

Check if you can use your ticket with another train company or by an alternative route. 

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