Portsmouth’s railway passengers are being tested to extremes.
Just when it seems they can be asked to take no more, there is yet more misery to be endured.
We have just come through another baffling strike. When strikes are called there is usually some obvious point of conflict – one can see what each side in the dispute is driving at.
This dispute is esoteric in the extreme. No one will lose their job, no train will lose a member of staff, a process passed as safe and already in use on the railways will be extended.
Passengers are caught in the middle.
The Secretary of State and Network Rail have taken action to try and improve services outside of the industrial dispute, including allocating £20m to improve emergency responses, reduce seasonal delays caused by overgrown trees, and improve the track, but services continue to be a disaster despite improvements.
We need to hold train operating companies to account and we need to compensate the travelling (or not) public.
The Delay Repay scheme currently offers refunds of 50 per cent when a train is delayed by 30 minutes.
This does not acknowledge that a delay of 15 or 20 minutes can cause a great deal of inconvenience.
As such, in the coming months Delay Repay 15 will begin to be rolled out, giving passengers a 25 per cent refund on journeys delayed by 15 to 30 minutes.
I am pleased that the Govia Thameslink franchise, which includes Southern, will be the first to adopt this new standard. I should say that this does not alter the need for distinct compensation arrangements for Southern passengers.
I realise that a delay of a mere 15 minutes seems like an impossible hope for many Southern passengers at the moment, but this policy is a step forward. I hope more will soon follow.