First Capital Connect passenger angered over compensation

THE compensation received by passengers left stranded for three hours on a First Capital Connect train in May has failed to quell their anger and frustration at the service provider.

Several of those caught up in the chaos of May 26 when a packed train broke down just outside Kentish Town for over three hours, say they have been offered “pretty poor” compensation.

All of those who contacted the paper wished to have their details withheld from publication, but admitted they were underwhelmed by the offer that FCC had made following the ordeal they underwent.

After the train broke down, passengers say they received just one announcement and were then left on a hot train with no water or cool air coming through. Half of the train was also left inside a tunnel, leaving passengers in the dark.

One commuter revealed he’d received �6.16 compensation and five scratchcards for future rail travel. He said: “Given the horror and frustration of that night, and the general incompetence displayed by the FCC in their communications and actions (or rather their non-communication and inaction) this is pretty poor compensation. Just because I am a commuter that has to use the FCC services, does not mean that I should be treated in this way.”

The scratchcards can be used for any rail travel and can be used by anyone the owner wishes to give them to. FCC said journeys as far away as Kings Lynn could be costly and the scratchcards would cover such trips if the owners wanted to use them that way.

An annual season ticket holder revealed that they had been offered the choice of five scratchcards or a �50 voucher. Another passenger said they had received �5.60 in compensation having purchased a day any-time return from St Albans to London for �12.

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Cllr Chris White last week revealed that FCC had refused to disclose the amount of compensation being offered to individuals when he approached them for details. It was, they told him, a private matter between the company and their customers. He said at the time: “Clearly it is to their advantage to negotiate privately with each claimant in a situation where one claimant may not be aware of the extent of another claimant’s compensation.”

He and the Herts Advertiser asked readers to inform them of any compensation they had received in order to piece together a picture of what was being offered.

In response to the information received from passengers so far, Cllr White said: “It looks as though First Capital Connect will not after all be paying anything except token compensation, despite what they have previously said. Some passengers have been given ‘scratchcards’ which can be set against rail fares – but these are relatively low value. Others seem not to have been offered anything at all.

“No wonder FCC were hesitant about telling me what the compensation scheme amounted to.”

n FCC shares the lowest rating for overall satisfaction with another rail company according to a survey by Passenger Focus carried out in spring this year.

FCC and National Express East Anglia scored 78 per cent each in the survey, some way behind the next three companies First Great Western, Southeastern and Southern, all with 82 per cent.

Nationally the percentage of passengers satisfied with their overall journey was 84 per cent - similar to the findings of the survey the previous spring and autumn.

But Passenger Focus is concerned that overall there has been a drop in scores for performance and value for money and the steady improvement of passenger satisfaction in the number of trains arriving on time has slowed down or reversed in parts of the country.