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Rail strikes updates for December - Where does it leave customers and how to claim?

Find out more about the latest National Rail strike announcements and how you can potentially get your money back if your journey is affected

A photo of Daniel Sharpe-Szunko, the author

By Daniel Sharpe-Szunko

Published on: 22 November 2023

5 min read

Rail strikes updates for December – Where does it leave customers and how to claim?

Strikes can be one of the most frustrating and costly problems for rail travellers, especially over the holiday period. Over the past two years, there have been numerous strikes by the RMT and Aslef Unions causing major disruption to rail travel all over the UK.

The latest announcements have suggested that further strikes will take place throughout the festive period. It is understood that strikes will continue in December and likely to affect as many as 18 rail companies, with further cancellations and disruptions to rail travel.

Following our research will explain how rail travel is likely to be affected across the UK and December, and the process to claim compensation if it is due. There are also other options to consider, such as being able to travel on alternative dates.

Ongoing disputes between workers unions and rail companies in the UK have been happening for over 12 months now. The main issues for the rail workers unions are pay and poor working conditions, which have been an issue for several years.

With no potential resolution insight there is absolutely no surprise the rail workers will take further strike action in December.

These disputes between the railway unions and the train operators have been ongoing throughout 2023, so it is likely that further disruption will continue to happen beyond December the 9th.

Dates are likely to be released for further rail disruptions throughout the festive period and potentially into 2024 if no agreement is met.

Travellers who are using the rail network or underground next month should check travel information regularly for updates. Each rail operator should provide regular updates about which services are affected or you can visit the National Rail website for the latest travel information.

Proposed rail strike dates for December 2023 (so far):

DateServices affected
Sat. 2nd DecemberEast Midlands Railway; LNER
Sun. 3rd DecemberGreat Northern; London Northwestern Railway; Thameslink; West Midlands Railway
Tue. 5th DecemberC2C; Greater Anglia
Wed. 6th DecemberGatwick Express; Southwestern Railway
Thur. 7th DecemberCrossCountry; Great Western Railway
Fri. 8th DecemberNorthern Rail; TransPennine Express

Note: All of the train operators mentioned in the table above have a ban on overtime that will start from Friday the 1st of December through to Saturday the 9th of December 2023.

Each of the train operators has their own guidance on whether you are able to travel on different dates using the same ticket if you’re affected by strike action. If your train has been cancelled, you should check the terms and conditions for your own travel to find out what you’re entitled to do.

Often, you should be allowed to travel either one day before your planned travel date or several days after, depending on the dates of strike action and which train company you bought your ticket through.

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule to follow for rail operators when strike action is taking place for alternative travel dates.

The simple answer is, yes you should almost always be able to claim at least for a full refund and potential compensation if your travel plans are affected by rail industry strikes. The amount that you will be able to claim will depend on your ticket type and which train company you have booked with.

Travel compensation scheme is most commonly known as the ‘Delay Repay’ scheme which outlines if you’re entitled to compensation and the level and type of compensation that you are entitled to.

If you’ve booked an advance ticket for a one off trip or travel that is affected by the rail strikes in December, then you should be able to claim for any financial loss such as a refund. The amount of compensation that you will be entitled to will vary dependent on the train operator and how much your travel is impacted.

You may be able to claim twice if the delay or strike also affects your return ticket e.g. you were travelling and returning home on the same day.

Delays up to 30 minutes: People who are delayed for less than 30 minutes might be able to claim smaller amounts of compensation, or a smaller refund on the cost of their ticket.

Delays over two hours: If your travel is delayed by more than two hours then it is likely that you would be able to claim for 100% of the value of your ticket.

Note: You can get guidance about what compensation is available and how to claim your compensation on the National Rail website. The Standard Time limit for being able to submit a compensation claim is 28 days from the date of travel.

Season ticket holders are also allowed to claim for compensation if they are affected by rail strike action with most rail operators. You should look for guidance from your own rail operators website or terms and conditions to find out what you’re entitled to.

There are a number of potential claims that be made by season ticket holders, such as additional claims for ‘sustained poor performance’ by the rail operator.

In most cases you should be able to claim for a full refund if you choose not to travel due to cancellation of train services. This is usually where you are informed of a cancellation before you travel and make alternative arrangements or cancel your travel altogether. In this instance you should be able to claim for a full refund and submit requests to the rail operator direct within 28 days.

Each rail operator has its own set of rules and guidelines so you should seek specific guidance from your chosen train provider. You may also want to exchange your ticket to travel on another date, which should also be possible with almost all rail companies.

Unfortunately, train operators and ticket offices will not cover the costs of any financial losses due to strike action (e.g. Gigs, concerts, festivals, theatre shows etc.).

In this instance, you should firstly speak to the event organiser or your ticket provider to find out whether there are alternative dates. You may also be able to get a refund from the event organiser if you are unable to attend the event due to rail strike action.

There are several simple steps that you should follow if you’ve been affected by rail strikes and have been unable to travel or have experienced delays. You should make sure that you submit any claim to your rail operator (or retailer of your ticket) within 28 days of the date to travel to avoid your claim being refused.

  1. Firstly, take note of the train date and time that has been cancelled, delayed or rescheduled, and the reasons for the delays or cancellation
  2. Take a photo or scan of your train tickets on your phone and any other evidence such as e-mail receipts for proof of purchase
  3. Visit the National Rail website to find your train operator details
  4. You should then follow the claims compensation process for your train operator to submit your claim for a refund or compensation
  5. Make sure that you submit your claim within 28 days of travel

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