The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which administers the National Railcard scheme on behalf of train operators says that there will be no refunds of extensions for Railcard holders despite the current COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The RDG has not responded to a request to disclose how many Railcards are currently in use but says that Railcards are non-refundable and no extensions to expiry dates will be given.
With train companies operating reduced timetables, and the Government insisting rail travel is currently being provided for key workers, millions of people have been forced to abandon their rail travel plans. That includes those who make regular use of their Railcard(s)
Whilst refunds have been offered for tickets already purchased under a deal agreed between the Government and the rail industry, there is no such scheme to offer compensation to Railcard holders.
Whilst the RDG says that the savings on just one journey can cover the cost of a Railcard, it fails to acknowledge that most Railcard holders make many journeys a year and are currently unable to do so.
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group told Steven Knight Media: “Railcards provide great value for customers as the cost of a Railcard can often be covered by the savings they offer in a single journey which is why they are normally non-refundable and cannot be extended.
“We recognise that these are exceptional times which is why we have offered fee-free refunds on almost all kinds of tickets, have extended the time to claim a ticket refund and are refunding tickets remotely without people having to travel to a ticket office.”
With the Government call for ‘Essential Travel Only’ set to continue for at least another two weeks and possibly longer we hope that the Rail Delivery Group will reconsider its position and at least offer extensions when Railcards come up for renewal. But, given that Railcard extensions would affect the revenue stream for train operators is it a case that the Government would have to make the decision?
Steven Knight is a Transport Specialist who has over 40 years experience in the bus and rail industries as well as in specialist transport journalism. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.