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Rail travel in July 2016 | 6th August 2016, 16:07  
Southern Trains has made the news recently for the criticism it has received for the level of service it is providing, particularly during the current industrial dispute over the number of staff on trains.

For example this BBC story on the latest strike on Southern, which includes this gem in the second paragraph:
"Operator Govia Thameslink (GTR) said it would 'bring misery to hundreds of thousands of passengers'." (Quote deliberately taken out of context by me for humorous purposes.)

Given that this escapade has been going on for some time, in June I decided to keep a close log of all my rail journeys - primarily so I can make use of the 'Delay Repay' scheme to recoup a few of the many pounds I spend each month on my season ticket.

To recap: Delay Repay allows me to claim back the cost of my journey for any delay over an hour, or half the cost for a delay over 30 mins.

I now present data for the month of July 2016.

In July I made 34 journeys by rail (each journey being travel by one train on one route - i.e. If I change trains because no direct routes exist for my trip, then that counts as two journeys).

Of these, 32 were on routes operated by GTR (Gatwick Express or Southern), and the remaining two on Virgin (which we shall henceforth ignore, except to note that both trains arrived earlier than timetables).

If these, only two journeys were delayed over 30 mins, and none over an hour. That will net me a total repayment of 11.80.

In fact though, 28 of those 32 trains arrived later than timetabled. That's 26 late trains which weren't 'late enough' for me to be compensated.

In total, I bought my season ticket expecting to be able to use it for the planned journeys (plus unlimited tube travel in zones 1-6).

My total journeys using my season ticket (32 journeys) represented an expectation to spend 24 hours and 53 minutes on the train.

The lateness of the 28 journeys (which includes those where my planned train was cancelled or delayed and I caught an alternative) totalled to 5 hours and 47 minutes.

That's an additional 23.2% over the the time I had planned to spend on the train.

Trying to quantity an appropriate level of compensation for this period is tricky. I could use my salary an calculate how much my employer pays me for my time, and claim that's my worth, though that seems rough and crass and frankly unfair, as it would mean every passenger was compensated relative to their salary despite suffering equal inconvenience, and having paid equally for the journey.

Perhaps a better approach would be to estimate how much I pay for 23.2% of my season ticket and refund that? But again that's tricky - what proportion of my ticket goes on underground? (Actually that's easy to work out - 13.9% on top of the non-tube season ticket... or is it fairer to use the tube season ticket fare - 48.8%?)

I'm not sure what I'm concluding here. Maybe just that 11.80 doesn't seem reasonable for 5 hours and 47 minutes of my time, and that I'm unable to think of a fairer system of compensation.

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