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Last night, we were planning to travel on the last train of the night to get us home, which was the penultimate train from the station. (Exact route withheld for now, but it was with Chiltern Railways who I'd always thought were quite good...). We Got to the station about 10 minutes before the train was due, to discover it had been canceled! The station staff there made some calls, then said we'd need to get the last train of the night as far as it went, and the staff at the final station would sort out getting us home by bus or taxi.

After a wait for the final train, which while running was delayed, we took this last train as far as it went. At the station there, we asked the member of staff on duty how we could get home. Despite being in uniform and with a name badge on of the train company, this member of staff claimed to have no phone numbers for anyone else in the company, no way to get in touch with anyone, no idea of what to do, no taxi vouchers, and refused to help!

We tried phoning the train company in question on their number given on posters, but the phone system just disconnected us whenever we pressed the option for Customer Services. We tried using the help point on the platform, but that just got us through to a call centre who claimed to be nothing to do with the train company, but instead National Rail Enquiries. The help point call centre confirmed our train had been canceled, confirmed there were no further trains to get us home (which we already knew), but then claimed they had no way to contact the train company and no way to help!

Eventually, we found a local taxi, and paid for our own journey home.

.

I tried to complain today, but their phone system still cuts me off when I pick Customer Services in the menu, so I'll have to try again on a weekday.

In case this happens again though - if you have a UK train ticket, the last train is canceled, and the station staff are unwilling to help, what should you as a passenger do to get help finishing your journey?

  • If it's anything like Germany, you should be able to get a receipt from the taxi driver and hand that in to get reimbursed. – Jan Jun 19 '16 at 16:06
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    And governments are then surprised why people want to drive everywhere... – JonathanReez Supports Monica Jun 19 '16 at 16:18
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    Have you looked at the conditions of carriage? What you are entitled to should be specified therein. – fkraiem Jun 19 '16 at 16:29
  • Were you informed about the reason for the cancellation? As I understand the conditions of carriage, unless the cancellation was caused by a 'negligent or a wilful act' of the train operator, they are not strictly not required to provide you any support at all. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jun 19 '16 at 17:25
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Staff shortage apparently, so very much something that counts as the train operator's fault and something they're supposed to help with! – Gagravarr Jun 19 '16 at 18:58
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+250

If you are in the situation, train staff not helpful, late at night, no trains to get you anywhere, buses stopped for the night and only taxis to get you where you need to go, you have few options.

  1. Take a taxi (or call for one if you need to.)
  2. Stay in/near the station till the service starts again.
  3. Call a friend or relative to come and collect you.
  4. Call the police.

In most cases options 2 and 3 are either not acceptable or possible, so only option 1 and 4 stay. More on option 4 later.

If you take a taxi for which you have to pay yourself, ask for and keep the receipt and contact the train company the next day to ask for the money.

Their site has several options for contact.
I feel it is up to you and not a stranger who has not has never used their trains to contact them to find out what they think you should have done.

Whether you call the police, option 4, depends mostly on the police in the area and whether they would be helpful.
I have been brought up with 'the police is your best friend' and I would call the police for advice or even help if the other options are not available for me. But I am aware that it can be a no go in some countries/areas and as I do not know which station you were abandoned, I can not even search whether it is a good area to call for help or not.

If you are considering option 2, you should be aware whether the station stays open, or has at least a safe place to sit.
That is rather unlikely, but not impossible. If there is no safe place to sit, you will have to be awake and aware all night and in that case you need to know whehter the area is generally safe. I would never stay in or near a station through the night if there is an other option, but you might be made of sterner stuff.

As suggested in a comment by @Stephan Branczyk, ask the staff on duty for their name or employee ID, the name and contact details of their supervisor and if allowed make a video with the staff member telling you they can not do anything more for you.

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    I don't know if this would be legal in the UK, but would video-recording the member of staff on duty be helpful in a situation like this? In any case, at the very minimum, I would have recorded his name or employee ID, and I would have asked for the name and contact information of his immediate supervisor to lodge an official complaint against that employee. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 30 '16 at 20:43
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    @StephanBranczyk Presumably would be legal, given they're in a public place. Obviously you can't do this in a harassing manner (as then you're committing an offence), but in general filming is fine. – gsnedders Jul 5 '16 at 13:19
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From the National Rail Conditions of Carriage:

E. YOUR REFUND RIGHTS 26. Refunds on tickets that have not been used If you decide not to use a ticket (other than a Season Ticket - see Condition 36) to make all or part of your intended journey, then: (a) if the train you intended to use is cancelled, delayed or your reservation will not be honoured, you decide not to travel and at that time you return the unused ticket to any ticket office, the Train Company responsible for that ticket office will, wherever possible, give you an immediate full refund as shown in Condition 27; (b) if the train you intend to use is cancelled, delayed or your reservation will not be honoured, your ticket or relevant portion of it is completely unused, you decide not to travel and you submit a claim for a refund within 28 days of the expiry of the ticket to the Ticket Seller you will be given a full refund as shown in Condition 27 as soon as practicable and in any case within one month of your claim being received.
(c) if paragraphs (a) and (b) do not apply and the ticket has been bought from a Train Company’s ticket office (or a self-service machine) and you return your ticket at any Train Company’s ticket office no later than 28 days after the expiry of the ticket’s validity, you will receive a refund (subject to the notes below)

So take your ticket to the nearest ticket office and ask for a refund claim form and a complaint form. (I suggest you submit them together, to reduce the likelihood of receiving a small cheque from one section of the company and a meaningless apology from another.) If you also say you are not prepared to accept vouchers for your refund (as is your legal right), it is more likely that your letter will be put to a senior manager who has the power to provide compensation. You need to accept that the only thing this entitles you to is a refund of the fare, calculated pro rata on the part of the journey you could not take; however if you make enough of a fuss the company is likely to do wmoething to keep you quiet.

It is likely that the staff member you spoke to will be the one who suffers for this, despite the fact that he is too junior to be allowed to do anything about the problem. None the less, I encourage you to complain; unless the managers hear about the problems their policies cause, they are likely to continue with their cost-cutting.

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    The question was what to do to get help finishing your journey if you are stranded due to a cancelled train and the staff refuses to help. This answer deals with refund of the ticket price, but that has nothing to do with the question. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Jun 19 '16 at 18:59
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    The National Rail Conditions of Carriage, Section 43 says that the train company should be providing help, which their own station staff utterly failed to do. If you're going to quote the NRCOC that would seem a better starting point! – Gagravarr Jun 19 '16 at 19:03
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    @TimLymington When then-FGW (now GWR) have canceled infrequent trains on me from staffed stations, they've pulled out a magic book of taxi vouchers, taken us down to the taxi rank, and dispatched us in taxis as ones appeared. When they've done it from un-staffed stations, they've booked taxis on a corporate account from local firms, which have then arrived some time later to collect us from the station. I'd expected Chiltern to do something similar, not point-blank refuse to help :( – Gagravarr Jun 19 '16 at 23:16
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    Actually I think this does answer the question more than the other answer. I thought OP was asking "what to do now", i.e. after he's already taken the taxi etc. – abligh Jul 3 '16 at 20:34
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    @abligh "In case this happens again though ... what should you as a passenger do to get help finishing your journey?" – user56reinstatemonica8 Jul 4 '16 at 16:11
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First, get to your destination. If the only practical method is a taxi, get a taxi. Keep the receipt.

The next day, start working on getting a refund. You will, eventually.

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