Why did LNER sell me a ticket for a rail strike day and refuse a refund?

<span>Photograph: Airpix/REX/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Airpix/REX/Shutterstock

At the weekend I bought an advance ticket on the LNER website for a trip on 1 February from King’s Cross to Retford which I did not realise at the time was a day when there would be a rail strike.

On its website LNER says cancellations are non-refundable but for a further £10 (the ticket cost £40) I could change the booking to a different day. This is no use to me because I could only meet the person I was meeting on Wednesday.

How can the railways sell tickets for travel on trains they know will not be running and then refuse to give you a refund?

I can’t be the only person who has made this mistake during the recent train strikes and it must add up to thousands of pounds being taken from UK passengers.

Why don’t rail companies prevent consumers from buying a ticket they know they won’t be able to honour? I feel the booking system should have pointed out that it was a strike day. Is there any other business that can do something like this? I am flabbergasted.

GB, by email

Rail passengers have faced considerable disruption as a result of the drivers’ strike and no trains were running on most routes in England on this day. However, LNER was one of a small number of operating companies running a skeleton service which is why you are not entitled to a refund. It is frustrating to hear but you could actually have tried to make this trip.

LNER had not issued a “do not travel” warning as this guidance would have automatically made passengers entitled to a refund. It publishes its revised timetable several days before a strike and once finalised it is only possible to buy tickets on its website for the services it expects to run. In this instance LNER accepts this was a genuine mistake and is offering to refund you.

With the strikes likely to continue, if a train serving any part of your journey (outbound or return) has been cancelled or rescheduled you are entitled to a full refund from wherever you bought the ticket. There should be no fee for this. The National Rail website has a dedicated advice section for affected travellers which is a good place to start, while MoneySavingExpert also has a guide on how to claim.

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