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It's Christmas Eve which means you might be travelling home for the festive period – if you're not there already! You might prepare for your journey home by putting on a festive album or picking up a new book for the trip.

At this time of year, you're not going to want anything to ruin your time spent with family – especially not a train delay. But you can now claim compensation for a delay of 15 minutes or more. To make sure you know if you can make a claim, we're taking you through the details.

Delay Repay 15 scheme

All passengers on Great Northern, Southern, Gatwick Express or Thameslink trains will be the first customers in the country to claim under the new Government Delay Repay 15 scheme.

This scheme gives a pay out to customers who experience shorter delays on train services. At the moment, most train operators will only provide compensation for delays of 30 minutes or more. Some only pay out after the minimum legal requirement of over an hour.

Certain passengers will receive the following for delays of 15 to 29 minutes.

• Single fare: 25% compensation

• Return fare: 25% compensation for the affected part of the journey

• Season ticket holders: a proportion of your ticket

Select train companies will be updating their Delay Repay forms to feature this new option. All rail franchises will incorporate this new compensation pledge into their contract by 2020, according to the Department for Transport.

Next to introduce the scheme are South Western, West Midlands and South Eastern rail services.

For delays over 30 minutes

At the moment, the majority of train companies will only compensate you through the Delay Repay scheme once your delay is 30 minutes or over.

The existing thresholds for this scheme are as follows.

• 30 to 59 minutes: 50% of the single fare (or of the affected part of the journey).

• 60 minutes or more: 100% of the single fare (or of the affected part of the journey).

• 2 hours or more: 100% of a single or return fare.

You can claim a proportion of the ticket if you're a season ticket holder.

This scheme allows passengers to claim no matter what caused the delay, even if the train company wasn't at fault. If you want to claim, measure the length of the delay based on how it affects your travel. So if you miss a connection due to a 15 minute train delay and arrive an hour later at your destination, your claim would be for the hour delay, not just the 15 minutes.  

How do I make a claim?  

The claims process can vary depending on the rail service you use – see the company's individual policies for more details. You can pick up a claim form from the station or find one on your train company's website.

You will usually need to put in a compensation claim within 28 days. Make sure you keep hold of your tickets as you'll either need to post these or scan them to include in an online application. Keep a note of the delay and the reason for this.

If the rail service rejects your compensation claim but you believe you have a case, you should escalate your complaint further. As a last resort, you can take your complaint to the passenger watchdog Transport Focus.

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