Train firm refuses refund on unusable Advance tickets

Simon Calder
·2-min read
Northern ‘no’: The train operator refused a refund for tickets that could not be used (Simon Calder)
Northern ‘no’: The train operator refused a refund for tickets that could not be used (Simon Calder)

Ryan Nelson from Northern Ireland was glad to read that Advance rail tickets rendered useless by government restrictions can now be exchanged for vouchers to the same value.

The Department for Transport (DfT) made the announcement on Sunday.

For journeys booked before lockdown rules made non-essential travel impossible, the DfT said penalties for travellers with Advance rail tickets have been removed. Passengers will avoid the usual £10 administration fee and can exchange them for vouchers.

Mr Nelson planned a trip to northern England, and had bought four tickets with Northern Rail from Liverpool to Blackpool for a total of £25.

He made the purchase direct from the train operator on 19 September, long before Northern Ireland announced a four-week “circuit breaker” with no non-essential travel.

Even if he had been allowed to cross the Irish Sea, both Liverpool and Blackpool are under Tier 3 restrictions, with non-essential travel discouraged.

Mr Nelson told The Independent: “I contacted Northern Rail and they refused to offer me a voucher as they have not been passed any information about providing vouchers to affected passengers.”

He even provided screen shots of the article in The Independent, but was told: “Unfortunately at the moment we have not had any official government guidelines on refunding Advance tickets for National Rail vouchers.

“This is not to say this won’t happen but as we speak Advance tickets are still non-refundable.

“If or when the government advise differently we will be happy to help.”

Mr Nelson said: “We have rescheduled our trip to Blackpool to mid-February but I noticed train tickets do not seem to be available that far in advance in England, so the voucher would be useful for rebooking.”

A spokesperson for Northern said: “With so much of our network affected by the highest tier of coronavirus restrictions, we are pleased to be able to offer our customers with Advance tickets the option of making their journey at any time within the next 12 months.

“We are extremely sorry for the confusion regarding our customer’s planned journey between Liverpool and Blackpool and we will be making contact as soon as practicable to offer vouchers for travel.”

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