Many commuters and regular rail users have been unable to use their discount railcards since the coronavirus pandemic began, especially during the lockdown period.
However, the rail industry has announced that it will not be offering refunds to passengers for the travel passes, as paying back more than five million customers would be too costly for the taxpayer.
Travellers unable to use railcards
Discount railcards, which usually cost £30 for one year, became redundant for many when the UK first entered into lockdown in March, as the public were urged to stay at home and avoid public transport where possible.
Some may have been hoping to get a refund for their unused railcards, but the government has confirmed that this will not be the case.
Alongside this, the government has also rejected proposals to instead extend the expiry date of railcards, or to introduce discounts on future renewals.
The Railcard website explains, “We understand the restrictions due to Covid means some Railcard customers haven’t made all of the journeys they had planned. After careful consideration the government has confirmed to us that Railcards will remain non-refundable and will not be extended.”
Cost to the taxpayer
The Railcard website further explains that UK taxpayers would be affected if the cost of railcards were refunded, due to the government supporting the rail industry financially in order to keep services running during the pandemic.
“Refunding or extending Railcards for over 5.1m customers would come at a significant cost to the taxpayer, at a time when the focus must be on maintaining rail services to support the country’s recovery from the pandemic,” the Railcard website adds.
“Please rest assured that this decision hasn’t been taken lightly and was made at the highest level.”