Millions of railcard holders have been told they won’t get a refund – or an extension – on their passes, despite not being able to use them during lockdown.
The scheme, which offers a third off rail fare with certain restrictions, is available to a wide group of people in Britain.
Some 5.1million people have a railcard, which are available for 16 to 25 year-olds, 26 to 30 year-olds, senior citizens, people with disabilities and families with young children.
Using a railcard can help travellers save dramatically on their train fare, with most of the cards costing £30 per person – the disabled persons railcard is available at a cheaper rate of £20 per year.
With the majority of the 5.1million customers paying for a £30 railcard, if the firm had decided to refund cardholders, it could cost upwards of £150million.
Many people have asked about a part-refund or an extension to their card for not being able to use it over a four month period during lockdown/sheilding.
A Railcard spokesperson said: ‘We understand that this decision may not be the news our customers had been hoping for.
‘Refunding or extending Railcards for over 5.1million 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 Government also emphasised the importance of maintaining services while passenger numbers are down.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: ‘We took immediate action at the outbreak of the pandemic to support the rail industry, keeping the services people depend on running, protecting jobs, and delivering refunds on all advance fares, as well as removing charges for cancellations
‘With fares revenue having fallen to less than 5 per cent of pre-Covid levels, we must ensure we are fair to taxpayers and focus investment on maintaining services, to enable social distancing and support our economic recovery.’