Delay Repay

In the golden age of rail travel when I were a lad I didn’t need to worry about delay repay. A train delay was a rarity that could be borne with equanimity, even if one couldn’t easily spell it.

Now, it is a point of principle that on every delayed journey (which, let’s face it is every journey taken) I sit and complete the delay repay claim for the previous delayed journey. If the train wifi is up to it. Which it usually isn’t.

There is a serious point here. Two actually. A toofer bonus.

Firstly, a reminder to those who are more junior than me that this is available (I’m sure you already know it), and you should claim for your travel delays where you can. Although I am still currently twitching about a scarring experience involving a fight to the death between Cross Country and Aviva West Coast as to who would compensate me for the rare but wasted first class ticket I bought on the day of the big storm (I know, I practically caused the national rail disruption by stupidly buying a first class ticket) – resolved yesterday when Cross Country realised that it was cheaper to cough up than to keep trying to fob me off or pass me back to Aviva – it is generally an efficient and straightforward process. And you have to cut your overheads where you can.

Secondly, a mischievous thought…. wouldn’t it be great if we could do a delay repay claim every time we go to court and end up hanging around or get adjourned off for ‘no judge’? I suppose perhaps that might have been more justifiable in the days of the block list, which are no longer de rigeur, but perhaps the delay repay idea could be deployed to compensate us for trials prepped for but which never seem to arrive at platform? Always tantalisingly 6 minutes away, so one needs to be prepped and ready to embark, but suddenly shows as cancelled just as you think its definitely coming around the bend. No doubt a big plus point in favour of the adoption of this wheeze would be that delay repay is administered via portal. And as we all know, portals are the answer to pretty much everything. Even if they work about as reliably as the rail network on a stormy day in November…

Actually, being slightly more serious – the government has apparently realised it might need to pay travel expenses to QLRs. See recently published Government response to the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Report on The Family Court and domestic abuse, published last week. At last. But take care. The response refers only to QLRs travelling outside of their local area to meet demand (none of those terms are defined) and says that ‘To help address this issue and in recognition of the added cost of this travel, the Government will legislate to introduce a travel expense policy for QLRs which will enable recovery of travel expenses in certain circumstances. Further information about this policy will be provided in due course.’ I doubt this will really reliably defray travel costs for QLRs without hassle and risk of justifying why this QLR was needed to travel to this court and why they couldn’t have walked to get there. the QLR scheme could also do with taking a leaf out of the delay repay model on other fronts – over on the transparency project blog one commentator points out that the LAA are refusing claims for XX Prep to QLRs where for reasons outside their control they have attended a xx hearing but no xx has taken place. Boo hiss to that.

Meanwhile, HMCTS seem finally to have taken my hints that their data management in respect of the QLR lists is shockingly bad, and the constant flow of emails begging me to travel to Bournemouth for no money (where I never signed up) seems to have slowed. But possibly only because its a weekend (not that the fact its a weekend has stopped them before). With bus like predictability, I had 6 land all at once in my inbox on Friday, but my usual Saturday smattering of requests for me to travel is strangely absent.

The sad thing about delay repay is that it is utterly ineffective. Its purpose and effect is (presumably) supposed to be incentivising train companies to run efficient and timely services so as to avoid the eyewatering levels of compensation that they are obliged to shell out if they don’t get it right. That is of course because it is a crude mechanism and the reasons for delays are multifactorial and complicated. But I do wonder, if we were properly compensated for all the wasted (and unpaid) hours we spend on cases that don’t go ahead for reasons outside our control, whether perhaps the system would magically run better. Or if not, at least we would be slightly less worn down by the endless hours we spend sitting miserably, waiting to get to our destination when we should be at home with our families.

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