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‘One-way ticket to cash’ as firms paid for cancelled trains

RAIL firms have been accused of having a ‘one-way ticket to the bank’ by raking in ‘millions’ in payouts for cancelling trains during snowstorms.

Taxpayer-funded Network Rail is to pay for services disrupted by last week’s big freeze — even though some operators scrapped routes.

Under ‘Schedule 8’ of the Office of Rail and Road regulations, firms receive compensation when timetables are affected by unplanned disruptions — including adverse weather — causing a delay of more than one minute.

In turn, they must pay Network Rail for delays they cause, such as trains breaking down.

Recent figures showed operators received £181million from Network Rail in the last financial year — but paid £74million to passengers who had to endure delays of at least 30 minutes to receive compensation.

The amount paid out for last week’s disruption is not known, but RMT general secretary Mick Cash wants the figure to be published immediately.

‘It’s not Network Rail’s fault that it was snowing, so why should this publicly-funded body have to pay compensation?

‘For private operators it’s a one-way ticket to the bank. They’re scooping up money while passengers are having trains cancelled.

‘Passengers end up paying twice — once for tickets, then as taxpayers subsidising these companies.’

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train firms, said it was not in operators’ interests to delay or cancel services, adding the payouts ‘keep costs down for taxpayers and farepayers’.

The Department for Transport said the scheme ‘helps drive more reliable services and encourages Network Rail to get journeys back on track as soon as possible’.