How to request a refund for disrupted train services
Should you get your money back for disrupted train services?
By Rebecca Styles
Reports of Wellington train passengers being jammed like sardines in rail carriages, or having to find alternative ways into the city, have hit the media in the past few days.
The train timetable was reduced because track safety evaluation equipment was out of action.
While the disruption was an inconvenience for train passengers, it also raises the question of whether commuters paying for monthly passes should be compensated for the lack of services.
Can you get a refund for your 30-day pass?
A 30-day rail pass to travel from Porirua into the city costs $82.80. For those further afield, in Waikanae, it’s $165.30 – and that’s with the government currently paying half of your fare (until 30 June 2023).
So, can you ask for your money back for the days you couldn’t board the train?
In the fine print of its conditions of carriage, Metlink says passengers have the right to a partial or full fare refund for unplanned service disruption – unless the cause of the disruption was outside of its control or caused by another party.
In this case, the disruption was down to KiwiRail. Yet, under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), both organisations should carry out services with reasonable care and skill, and ensure they’re fit for purpose.
Given the problem was with a key piece of safety equipment – the only track evaluation equipment in the country – we would argue that not enough care and skill was provided, and the service was not fit for purpose.
Metlink ‘is not refunding customers’
We asked KiwiRail whether customers could expect a refund for the days impacted by the disruption. They directed us to Metlink because train passengers are its customers.
Metlink General Manager Samantha Gain said it’s not refunding passengers “who were unable to travel or were delayed due to the reduced services caused by KiwiRail speed restrictions.”
However, it will automatically refund “passengers who tagged on at stations but were unable to catch trains and received default fares”.
This will be cold comfort to regular train users.
How to ask for a refund
In our view, Metlink should provide partial refunds to anyone with a monthly pass who was unable to travel due to the disruptions.
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