Your Rights: Using Transport in London

This page sets out your rights and responsibilities when using transport in and around London. 

We believe that passengers have the right to expect a transport network that is fit for purpose and provides a reasonable level of service. We have set out our aspirations in our own Passengers' Charter

We recognise that passengers' entitlements do differ from our aspirations, and therefore this page is deisgned to set out what commitments are made by operators including the levels of service you should expect, claiming compensation, dealing with penalty fares and lost property. 

There are various different rules and pieces of legislation setting out passengers' rights. These can be very confusing, and this page will help you navigate the rules and regulations to ensure you have the best travelling experience possible and to assist you if you have any problems on your journey. 

The best advice is to always check fares and route before travelling to avoid difficulties and ensure you know exactly the compensation to which you are entitled.

There are several ways you can purchase a ticket:

  • Station ticket office
  • Ticket vending machine
  • Various websites
  • Oyster ticket agents
  • Newsagents
  • Telephone 
  • Within the London zones you can use your contactless payment card.

Your basic rights

When you purchase a ticket, validate an Oyster card or touch a contactless payment card to travel on a train or TfL service, you enter into an agreement with them. The agreement gives you the right to make the journey (or journeys) between the stations or within the zones shown on the ticket. National Rail Conditions of Travel and TfL Conditions of Carriage apply to any domestic journeys and set out your rights and any restrictions. They set out the minimum level of service you should expect. 

Read or download the National Rail Conditions of Travel

Read or download Transport for London's Conditions of Carriage (including Oyster, buses, underground, DLR, Tramlink and Dial a Ride).  

Conditions of Travel set out the minimum level of service to which you are entitled.

However, the Conditions of Travel only set out minimum standards, all individual train companies and some TfL services have separate Passenger Charters which exceed Conditions of Travel and which you should always check. 

Claiming compensation

Rail (not Eurostar)

If your train has been severely delayed or cancelled you may claim a refund from your train operator. Generally, you are entitled to compensation based on the train operator's individual policy set out in their Passenger Charter (found on individual company websites or ticket offices). 

Make sure you claim for the refunds to which you are entitled. You'd be surprised how many people don't!

For rail in London, a typical charter would be:

Delay of 30-59 mins

50% of fare for affected journey

Delay of 60-119 mins     100% of fare for affected journey
Delay of 120 mins + 100% of return fare


Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern also offer a 25% refund of your fare for journeys affected by delays of between 15-29 minutes.

Compensation payments can be made in various different forms. These include cashable vouchers, BACs payments and card refunds. However, if you have a monthly or annual season ticket, some companies will only provide compensation if the average punctuality throughout the year falls below a minimum standard rather than based on your actual journey. You must claim with 21-28 days (depending which company is involved). 

London Underground

You can claim if you have been delayed on the London Underground or DLR for over 15 minutes if the circumstances are within TfL's control. Compensation is paid in vouchers, and you must claim within 14 days. You should receive the single fare for the affected journey. 

Oyster

You should be able to get a refund on lost or stolen Oyster cards, and may also be able to get a refund of your deposit and unused Pay As You Go if you no longer need it. 

Confused about the Oyster statement you receive from the booking office or vending machine? Call the Oyster helpline, on 0343 222 1234 (between the hours of 0800 and 2000), who can supply you with much easier to understand version.   


Eurostar

Details about Eurostar's compensation arrangements can be found on their website.

Penalty Fares

When travelling on public transport, you must ensure that you have a valid ticket. 

A penalty fare can be issued if you:

  • travel without a valid ticket in all fares zones
  • travel with an incorrect ticket in all fare zones
  • travel in first class with a standard class ticket
  • travel on a child rate ticket when you are overage
  • travel beyond the destination stated on your ticket
  • trespass on a national rail or Transport for London (TfL) service
  • do not correctly validate an uploaded or capped season ticket
  • do not correctly validate a Pay As You Go Oystercard or contactless payment card

There are different appeal processes and stages to manage penalty fares, depending on which transport operating company you were travelling with when your received the notice. The information needed to appeal or pay a penalty fare is printed on the penalty fare notice itself.  Therefore, please ensure you keep it and read it carefully.

Appealing against a Penalty Fare

To ensure that the process is unbiased, all first stage penalty fare appeals are sent to an appeals body which is independent of and separate from the transport provider (with the exception of Tramlink). Please do not send your appeal to the rail operator or TfL at this stage.

If you think you have been issued with a penalty unfairly, you can appeal in the first instance to the Independent Penalty Fares Appeals Service, Penalty Services,  the Appeals Service or Tramlink. They all must receive your appeal within 21 days of the penalty fare being issued.

 A number of  rail operators issue penalty fares that must be paid within 21 days regardless of whether or not you decide to make an appeal.  Your penalty fare notice advises you of the process to follow, so please read it carefully. Your penalty fare will be refunded to you if your appeal is successful.

Regardless of which type of penalty fare method is used, administration charges will be added if you do not adhere to the specified timescales. You could, therefore, find yourself having to pay much more than the initial penalty fare. Paying the penalty fare on time will also prevent any further action, such as debt collection or prosecution for non payment, being taken.

Prosecutions

Where a rail operator and Transport for London (TfL) believe that you have deliberately evaded paying your fare, refused to accept the penalty fare, or do not have the means to pay the single fare, you can be prosecuted for fare evasion. The methods of processing prosecution cases can differ depending on which rail company or type of transport you were travelling on. It is therefore important to follow the advice provided.

London TravelWatch is not part of the penalty fare or prosecution appeal process and we cannot change the decision made by the appeals body. However, if you have concerns about the way your appeal has been handled, please contact us.

If your penalty fare appeal is upheld and you still believe it is unfair, contact London TravelWatch and we will review your concerns

Lost Property and Damage

If you have lost any property on a train or railway station, you will need to contact the train company concerned. If you have left your property on an underground train or station, a bus, a tram, the DLR or a taxi or minicab, you will need to contact TfL.

There is a very high volume of lost property reported, so give a detailed description of the lost item/s. Property is often kept locally for a few days, so you may need to wait before it arrives in a central Lost Property office.

If you are claiming liability for damaged property, the train companies liability does not exceed £1,000. 

If you have any advice to share with us, please contact us and we may use it on this page to ensure London's passengers know their rights and make use of compensation schemes, refund entitlements and appeal procedures. 

You might also find the information available on Which?'s dedicated consumer rights website useful.